I caught sight of him out of the corner of my eye...
I felt a little thrill when the tall stranger walked by.
A current of energy passed between us.
I had been in the process of breaking up with a boyfriend for a few months.
He was reluctant to split up, but I had known it was only meant to be a short-term relationship. In fact, I was on the phone with him just then.
There was an urgency as Spirit said to 'Finish it NOW!'...just moments before
I laid eyes on Danny for the first time.
Three men walked down the dock past my houseboat. I recognized two of them
as neighbors, but the tall blonde man in the middle was a stranger.
I felt a rush of attraction that was undeniable.
Feeling a little guilty as I ended the phone call with the now officially
former boyfriend, I saw the blonde man glance back at me over his shoulder.
He felt something, too...
My usual peace was disturbed by this sudden rush of emotions.
I got up and busied myself with housecleaning.
Not ten minutes later, I felt a footfall on the deck of my boat.
I turned to see the tall blonde guy leaning in with a friendly grin.
"Permission to board?" he asked in a sweet Southern drawl.
"Uh...Yes!! Come aboard!" I answered with a blush.
"I'm Danny. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'll be staying
on my friend's boat for a few weeks."
"I'm Debbie...Nice to meet you. I'm kinda new around here myself.
I guess I'll be seeing you around then."
"I could use a friend. Come on by anytime." With that, he was gone.
'Whew! Nice energy!' I thought.
What was it about him that excited me so much?!
He was tall and broad-shouldered. Athletic and tan with startling blue eyes.
Too young for me but easy on the eyes!
I was definitely drawn to him more than I wanted to be...
Half an hour later, Danny was back!
"Come on in!"
He stepped across the threshold and straightened up. Six foot four...Nice!
"Would you like a beer?"
I didn't drink beer or keep it on hand as a rule, but just that morning,
I had gone to the liquor store and bought some on impulse.
In fact, I bought all kinds of alcohol...as if I was going to throw a party,
I mused. I had never done that before.
I really wasn't sure what had come over me...
But it came in handy in that moment.
I poured myself a glass of wine and settled in to get to know my new neighbor. Conversation flowed easily. I felt curiously comfortable with him right
from the start.
He had a sweet spirit. Funny, shy, light-hearted, genuine...
I offered him another beer...and then another.
This was not like me...
I felt a bit reckless that evening. I am never reckless...
But here I was, keeping the beer and the conversation flowing...
I had half an idea to bring out the hard liquor next...
'Uh oh! Why am I acting like this?!' I wondered.
We were lost in our conversation when we heard people running down
the dock. His friends burst in!
"Danny! Your brother just died...from a heart attack!!"
"Which one!?" he said as he jumped to his feet in shock.
"It was Jeremy! James is flying in from California right now!"
I watched Danny go cold.
As I was soon to learn, Jeremy was his favorite brother.
He was young...only 47.
Danny and James had a serious falling out after their parents died
a few years back and had not spoken a word to each other since.
Now the only family left were Danny and James.
I should have known! This was no accident... It was a set-up!
Part of me leapt into action, suddenly focused and hyper-aware.
"Hey everybody...come in. Sit down!"
I grabbed glassed and started pouring whiskey shots and handing them around.
They were gonna need some liquid courage to ease them through the shock.
They talked. I re-filled glasses and listened carefully.
There couldn't have been a worse scenario!
Between the shock, the grief, anger and the unfinished business
between the brothers, it was going to be a hard night.
The friends had to leave to pick James up from the airport.
I said "Danny can stay with me...You just bring James straight here, ok?"
Danny's story poured out...
He had lost both his parents in recent years...
Dad died of a massive heart attack as had another brother.
Both without warning.
And now Jeremy had died the same way. It was a lot to deal with...
Danny had been even more heart-broken at the passing of his Mom.
You could tell they had been close.
He told me that sometimes when he did dishes, he thought he caught a glimpse
of her out of the corner of his eye. It always happened in that same spot...
He often dreamed of her. He wondered if it was his imagination...
I began to piece things together.
They were Irish...his mother had 'the gift'. So did Danny.
He had that good heart...
Life could be painful that way. It's not easy being a sensitive.
I thought about James who would be here any time now and the hard feelings
between them. They'd be as likely to brawl as anything!
And I thought of the brother so suddenly passed into spirit...
This could be tricky.
Something told me to just keep those glasses filled...for what was to come.
Of course, now I understood why I had a cupboard stocked with alcohol!
When I heard footsteps on the dock, I stepped outside with a big tumbler
of whiskey and handed it to James as I introduced myself.
"You must be tired from your flight...come in!"
"Fellows, take his things to your boat. Let me sort these boys out!"
I knew nothing about old-fashioned Irish wakes at the time, but we proceeded
to have just that!
"Drink up lads!" I urged.
I had gotten them just drunk enough that the ice could be broken.
It wasn't too much longer before their tongues came unglued.
They were kept pre-occupied with their drinks till I could coax some boyhood stories from them. As the night wore on, stories, tears and laughter intermingled and their hearts found release.
I just kept pouring, hoping I was doing the right thing.
It seemed shameful to get them drunk like that, but at the same time,
it felt so right!
They patched things up that night in a way they couldn't have done
had they been sober.
Once their hearts fell open it all went like it needed to.
It was a night to remember!
Spirit had brought it all together... Alcohol to boot!
People can think what they like, but it's God's world and He can color
outside the lines anytime He wants...
Around 4 am, the brothers were pretty much done in.
The tears had been cried, the remembrances had been made, the laughter,
the forgiveness, the story of a family told...
It was an extraordinary night...
I laid them out right where they were and covered them with quilts
for what was left of the night. The atmosphere was so holy...
I closed the door behind me and went for a walk in the predawn hours,
thankful for all that had taken place.
Danny became a friend...and a lover that summer.
There was an easy spirit between us...
We fixed supper together most nights, I went to his volleyball games,
we played pool, we danced at the local hangout, we beached the boat on the islands.
So many good things came of our time together.
We were only destined for a summer together and then Life shifted...
as it often must.
The song that played that summer was "My Favorite Mistake."
An ending like ours could only be bittersweet...but it still makes me smile...
'But your laughter won't let me go...'
Fare well, Danny!