Almost four years... That is how long I knew my Peter. It does not seem like a long time but it still feels like a lifetime to me. We met at the end of 2000 when the Logos 2, the ship he was working on at the time, came to Cyprus. After thousands of emails, hundreds of phone calls, many visits all around the world both on and offshore, we were engaged in January 2003 with the intention of getting married in December 2003.
￼￼A month before our wedding, we discovered that he had a cancerous growth on his head. This lump was removed successfully and we were married as planned on 20th December 2003.
March 1st 2004, we found out that the cancer had metastized to the lungs; medically there was not much hope...
March 2nd, we found out we were expecting our first child...we were living in Cyprus at the time. We moved to New Zealand end of April. Peter enjoyed a healthy and active life till the end of July. The last few months of his life he suffered with pain and was in hospital for some time.
Our daughter Keziah Miracle was born on November 3 , 2004. Five days later Peter passed away...
A few months before he passed away Peter told me, “you will write a book about me and have our child to remember me by.” I was not very happy with him at that time and at his suggestion that he will leave us! But I was left with 20 years of Journals. He had written a whole page every single day since he was 19. I thought this discipline deserves some attention and some of his writing needed to be in print. The idea of the book started about 10 years ago, but it took several years for me to be ready emotionally to get into his diaries. Once the project started it took 3 years to complete.
But how would I summarize 20 journals? Do I write about his life? Do I write about our romance? Do I write about how we faced cancer? Then I thought I would focus on what I feel Peter would want me to focus on. He often would talk to me about things that have eternal value. I actually found a list Peter had written of things he would like to do in life. Next to each one he had written “eternal value” or “no eternal value”. I decided I would compile some of his writings and divide them into topics that I sense have eternal value: thoughts and insights that would help anyone. A book not about him, though there will be some of his experiences, but mainly about what he learned in life, what he learned from God. The excerpts have to be short as most people including myself have 'facebook attention span'! Some thoughts will be in bold for those who like reading highlights. I envisioned a book that could be left on a table, picked up every now and then, the reader would read a few thoughts and put it down.
Some readers may be wondering what eternal value is. Peter believed in God, the One Who was from the beginning and the One Who has no end. He is the One who created him so he could have a relationship with Him forever. Peter believed that by believing in God’s Son Jesus and His death on the cross he would be forgiven of his sins. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead assured him of his own body’s resurrection when Jesus returns, and life forever with God. Believing all this, Peter lived for what would last forever... For what is eternal.
He loved people...He listened carefully to each person’s story. He cared especially for the poor, the underprivileged, the neglected. That is why he did his graduate courses in Development Studies, as he wanted to practically help people in third world countries. Love and people are eternal!
He did not have much material goods and he liked giving away most of what he had. I remember once I wrote his name with a permanent marker on the label on his tie, because a few months before, he had given a tie I had given him to a friend who needed it. He had done well! He knew material goods really had no heavenly value, but giving did!
He did not like focusing on pain or the personal hard things he faced. He used to say he can have a bad day but tries not to turn it into days. In the last weeks of his life, when he had terrible pains all over his body, he decided that he would pray for a country depending on where it hurt. “So if my neck hurts, I will pray for India; if my back...for Myanmar...” and the list went on. His physical pain did not last eternally; it was for a limited time. But the lives of the people in those countries can be changed eternally.
Was Peter perfect? Close, but not completely. He had his doubts and times when he felt that he had failed in life. Times when he was not sure which path God would have him take. Striving to live for what is eternal does not always guarantee an easy life; it is not struggle free, but the One who is eternal guarantees His presence and guidance daily.
God placed an incredible faith in our hearts to believe for Peter’s physical healing. It was not just a positive notion that we held on to because we were afraid of death, as God had removed the fear of death from our hearts. But it was something He gave that I still believe will bear fruit, even now after Peter’s death.
Our daughter is called Keziah Miracle. Peter and I decided on her name before she was born. At the time we did not know if our child was a son or daughter, but we had her name: Keziah, one of the daughters of Job in the Bible. Job suffered much and lost everything, but after a certain time God blessed him again with many material goods, sons, and 3 daughters, one of them named Keziah. Our Keziah was named as the one who came as a blessing after a time of suffering, and my prayer is that she continues to bring joy to those who are suffering. Her middle name is Miracle...simply because we want her to see miracles in many lives that can only be explained by Jesus.
God is eternal
People are eternal
Love is eternal
A few years ago as I asked God to tell me when the pain of grief gets less, He impressed on my heart that “Love is eternal, but grief isn’t.”
When you face death or any other hardship that shakes your life, you begin to think about your own life: your goals, values, what is important, who is important.
Peter’s life challenged me to live for what is eternal, and Peter’s early death challenges me even more. Some of Peter’s thoughts and insights in his diaries have been an inspiration, encouragement and challenge for me. I hope as you read them, they will do the same for you.
Hasmig Nassanian Capell