Three years ago today, I got married. Most brides are full of hope and enthusiasm for their life ahead of them. I was not. I had just found out that my fiance's cancer was back, and worse, that it had spread. The oncologists were measuring his lifespan in months, not years.
A devoted studier of Buddhism, Peter fought hard to stay in the present moment. Knowing your days are numbered makes that hard to do, but he was better at it than most. During his last year and a half, we worked to find joy in the now. We fed ducks in the park. We ate fancy cheeses with our eyes closed. We read the funny parts of our books out loud.
Sometimes it was hard to shut out the noise in our brains telling us the end was coming sooner than we thought. On those days we watched a lot of sitcoms. If we couldn't laugh about the moments happening in our day, the characters would help. We watched all but the final season (which had not yet aired) of Parks & Rec. The character who made us laugh the most was Andy, who pretends he's an FBI agent named Burt Macklin.
So when Peter, a devoted environmentalist, read on the back of the Puffins cereal box that eating only twenty boxes of cereal would allow him to sponsor and name a puffin off the coast of Maine through a marine research initiative called Project Puffin, he knew exactly what he was going to name his puffin: Burt Macklin. Because how funny would it be if there was a puffin running around pretending he was FBI?
Peter ate about seven boxes toward his goal. Puffins cereal isn't my favorite cereal (it's not even in my top ten favorite cereals), but I knew I had to finish what he had started. So for two years, I ate this health nut cereal that I wasn't exactly wild about, racking up the UPC labels. I even tried their seasonal pumpkin-flavored cereal last fall. Finally this year I ate enough cereal, sent my UPCs to Project Puffin, and received a certificate. Burt Macklin is now the name of one of many puffins who makes an island off the coast of Maine his summer home. This may seem like a strange way to remember someone so deeply loved, but I think Peter would've liked thinking that Burt the puffin, sire of 17 pufflings (seriously), was probably waddling around being fake FBI and bringing joy to all the puffins.