Just yesterday evening I had a breakthrough in the way I
constitute myself as
A whole new vista, a whole new freedom to be suddenly and
spontaneously opened up and an entirely new surge of happiness came on
me. This morning I called out to you to tell you what happened ... but
there was no answer. Just the silence of my own being.
I'm as complete with you gone as I was complete with you here. You
leaving doesn't diminish my experience of completion. Yet it's in those
moments when, through sheer force of habit, I forget you're gone when
something wonderful happens and I say "Wow! Awesome!" and
I call out to you to share it with you, and you don't
answer ... that's when I miss you.
isn't emptier now without you in it. On the contrary it's richer for
you having been in it. I've got
nothing going on
about you no longer being here - honest I don't - other than you're
no longer here. Like an open book laying spine down on my desk and
the wind blowing through the opened window turning over a page, it's a
new chapter beginning. That's what it is. That's all it is.
In the kind of friendship you made available based on completion rather
than on need, there's
left to say. When there's
left to say because it's all been said, there's no shock, there's no
anguish when someone leaves. My entire thesis about why people are
shocked and anguished when someone leaves is this: either a raw need is
left unfulfilled, or something crucial to say has been withheld or left
unsaid, and the finality of the person leaving makes it clear there'll
never be another chance to say what was withheld or left unsaid ever
again. That's what's shocking and anguishing. People leaving isn't
inherently shocking and anguishing - any more than people being born
is. It's just another inevitable,
rite of passage, and I'm simply unwilling to impose any of my own
selfish restrictions on your choice to come and go as you
please. I celebrate you leaving with as much zest if not more as I
celebrated you being here.
There's the story of the monk in a
a student of
who went to his
a very wise man over a hundred years old, and asked him
do we have choice in the matter of our own death?". The
looked at him with total compassion, but
Then all of a sudden, startling the student, he yelled out very loudly
"KAAAAA!" ... and died.
Just like that.
I get for you it was a choice. I also get, interestingly enough, it was
as much a choice for you as any of your other day to day activities
were. At ninety nine years young you lived, in more ways than one,
twice the life most people will ever live. Your almost centenarian
aliveness and alacrity put many teenagers to shame. To live so well for
so long and then to leave as graciously as you did is, plain and
simple, what everyone wants to do.
in the face of
the direness of it all ie in spite of the significance of
Life. Whenever I lit your cigarette, reaching over sheltering the
Bic in my cupped hands, I would say with feigned finger
wagging seriousness "You know, you better stop smoking - if you don't
stop smoking, it will shorten your life.".
Now, remember you were ninety nine years old at the time.
So whenever I said "... shorten your life ..." we would
abruptly look up from the Bic's flame, stare each other in the eye in
mock horror ... then break out into fits of belly laughter. Like I
said, they were significance busting moments. I only wish I could
bottle them and sell them to the masses. They would heal
But there was something you gave me which I'm never going to sell. You
gave me your husband's
I remember the occasion well - like it was yesterday. It was a
winter's afternoon. We were drinking tea you had brewed, eating
pastries you had served, and as we sat at your living room table
on the window and talking casually about things, you noticed I was
dripping wet - I had brought neither a coat nor an umbrella with me,
had caught me unawares. You said "Just a moment ..." and stood up and
left the room. When you returned you carried a smart, dapper man's
"This belonged to my husband" you said. "Try it on. He would want you
to have it.". Then you laid it across my shoulders, opening it up so I
could put my arms into its sleeves easily.
I tried it on. It was a perfect fit - the smart, dapper
which protected your husband from inclement weather.
What an honor! What an incredible, extraordinary honor ...
There's something you would say to me many times in our conversations
over these last
or so which I've never forgotten. You would say
is in his heaven and everything is right with
- even though it doesn't always look like it.". Whenever you
said that, I was always immediately and gently transported back to
"It's OK the way it is"
no matter what was going on with me at the time. Your
is in his heaven and everything is right with
- even though it doesn't always look like it" was and is a
statement. It has the power to generate
transformationright here in your
for everyone with no one and
are the penultimate and last lines of Robert Browning's 1841 poem
Pippa's Song. But I think the way you say it
is in his heaven and everything is right with the
- even though it doesn't always look like it" is actually an
improvement on Pippa's Song. Somehow I don't think Robert
Browning would mind. Somehow I think Robert Browning, if he heard you
say it your way, would jump up driven out of his chair
calling out "Eureka!" and / or "A‑Ha!" and
That's what's missing: '... even though it doesn't
always look like it ...'! That's what's missing! I got it!
You see, Robert Browning the poet, given the inspiring quality of his
works and the sense they impart was, I suspect, a
human being, and I wonder what he would have done to have had the
opportunity of sitting with you and talking with you and being inspired
by you, the
Mother of Transformation.
Actually everyone wants to have had the opportunity of sitting with you
and talking with you and being inspired by you. I just had the good
fortune of being one of the lucky few who actually got that
opportunity. It was simply a
I can only begin to imagine who you must have been being to have given
so much. You've given me so much. You've given everyone so
much. On behalf of everyone, I hardly know where to start thanking you.
So for now I'll simply say: Thank You for Everything.