Robbo and I treated ourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for our 25th anniversary. Usually we spend three days in February at a seaside resort in Maine, where prices are deeply discounted for obvious reasons. This year we felt the draw to a warmer and sunnier climate; I was restless to get outside and get active. Through the advice of a good buddy of Robbo’s, we chose Belize, a former English colony on the east coast of Central America. For $70 a night we had a room that lacked something in luxury but gave us a homebase for the week.
Robbo arranged for a half-day fishing trip and after a good part of a day with Daniel and his son, Danny, we arranged to spend a full day later in the week. Between the two trips and the water-taxi that took us to and from the barrier islands, we spent a lot of time out on the water. I could never get enough of it.
Perhaps because the water is usually 1 to 5 feet deep with a white-sand bottom, the blues and greens were like nothing I have ever seen. Neither flowers, nor birds, nor skies in my experience prepared me for these colors. The water was like liquid gems: jade, emerald, topaz, diamond.
Our last day in Belize, I received the email from my church to say Dr. Koop was in his final hours. His son is our pastor, and Chick Koop attended, though lately he has been too frail to make the trip from Hanover. I have always been tongue-tied around him because when I was a music teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools outside D.C., he was local and national news. However, Robbo never knew him in that context and engaged Chick in battles of repartee. They enjoyed a running banter between them.
Later that day we left Belize by water-taxi, a 90 minute ride at top speed from the islands back to the mainland. As we rode on the open deck, bathed in tropical sun and drinking in my last sight of these colors, I thought of heaven. This brilliant light, these rich and surprising colors, are just a shadow, an echo of what we will find there. I thought of Dr. Koop and how he would shortly be leaving that old, worn out husk of a body behind. He would be coming at last to a world that exceeds the Caribbean in color and warmth and light and joy.
And he has done. Now he is young and his eyes are clear and his limbs have lost their stiffness. He sees the Lord as He is, and worships with joy inexpressible. Dr. Koop is on his everlasting holiday while we work in the cold and dark. Someday we will lay our work down and join him.
Goodbye, Dr. Koop.