The Perfect Weekend
This piece previously appeared February 26, 2016 in the program for Pete Huttlinger’s “Celebration of Life.”
Pete and I were a 24/7 couple. We lived together, we worked together, we spent nearly every waking and sleeping moment together. And we liked it that way. We thrived that way. The weekend before Pete went into the hospital, for the last time, was a perfect weekend. We both discussed it that Sunday night and agreed that we’d had the most perfect weekend. On Saturday we drove to a town just north of Atlanta for a gig. It was our first show of the year. After a nice holiday break we were ready to get back out on the road. I packed the merchandise, he loaded the guitars and we drove out of town. As always, we took turns driving, switching every hundred miles. We loved driving to gigs – it was quiet time in the car, just the two of us. We would sing, we’d laugh a lot, we’d hold hands and talk about business and life. The conversations were honest and pure. There was nothing we didn’t share with each other.
Pete performed a great show that night. The crowd was engrossed and energetic. Afterward we hung out and met a lot of wonderful folks. As soon as we got in the car to drive back to our hotel Pete said, “I played my ass off tonight.” I agreed and had noticed that in fact he played a few tunes that I hadn’t heard him play for a while. Ones that he’d eliminated from his set list because he felt he couldn’t do them justice. We went to the only bar in the area that was still open, had a couple of drinks and some food and did our usual post-show play-by-play.
Sunday morning we headed back to Nashville. We were happy to have the day at home and launched into our chores as soon as we got there. We both loved to cook and decided to make one of our favorite soups that night. We joyfully cooked together for about an hour and a half and then sat down with our homemade meal and talked, watched some of our favorite television shows and climbed in bed. We reflected on what a perfect weekend we’d had. So much pure joy, wonderful people and cherished time together. Just being together made us happy.
24 hours later, Pete was in a coma from which he never awoke. Just like that.
After Pete died I repeatedly told people about what a perfect weekend we’d had. I was grasping for some sort of positive in this horrible situation. Pete dying was beyond awful, but at least I could find some comfort knowing that we’d had that perfect weekend. We’d spent time together doing ordinary things, we’d each shown each our appreciation for the other, we’d kissed a lot, treated each other with respect and kindness, we’d laughed, we’d done our best at the things we do for a living. Perfection. And as I told this story over and over again it occurred to me that no matter when Pete might have died, we would have had a perfect two days leading up to it. He could have died the week before and I would have been able to say it was a perfect weekend. Because we lived our lives truly like any day could be our last, and that wasn’t just because Pete had so many health problems. It was because we loved each other in the deepest ways and we knew that time was precious. Then it dawned on me…Everyone has access to that perfect weekend. This is not a secret formula. We all have the opportunity to say we had a “perfect weekend.” It’s just a matter of being fully aware of what we have.