Death is so special. It is final, inevitable and for most of us frightening. My friend Chuck died, suddenly. I get it, I know it. But this morning, I looked for his car at our regular meeting place. And when I realized he wouldn’t ever be there again, I felt weird and sad. I can hold him near and dear. I can tell his story. But he will fade into the rearview mirror. One day I will try to talk about Chuck and no one will know who I am talking about. Just so, this will be my fate also.
Not only do I want the story of Chuck to be told, I want it to be my version. I am uncomfortable if I find out there is a different Chuck story out there. I want my story of my life to be the one that is told. I am afraid of the alternative version.
I want to sit with Chuck before he goes. I want us to get our story straight before it is too late. Even now I struggle with how to memorialize him and honor him. I intended to ordain in my Buddhist tradition for a short time to give my pal the best chance at a good rebirth. I want to share with Chuck how the Buddhist system works and how beneficial it may serve him. I want to comfort him that I will be there for him in death as much as I was in life. I want to talk about how he will be remembered, solidify the story such that the memorial will create itself.
I want to be a spiritual companion in death as I was in life. But reality is intruding in my wants and wishes. The opportunity to create the memorial I wish is severely limited by my lack of credentials, training and experience. It is limited by existing social structures, religious institutions and spiritual communities.
Death is just so challenging to the living. I have no clue what happens…heaven and hell, rebirth, reincarnation, mere energy, or what. I do not hold a concrete idea about after. I can freak myself out meditating on death. I meditate on how I will have a dignified exit and my loved ones will be comforted by my dignity. I want to take the fear of death out of my family’s life so they won’t have to concern themselves with scary existential issues. Let them enjoy life without fear of death. As if!
I just quit a year of hellacious entrepeneurial activity. I am stressed, tired and soul weary. Today was the first day of liberation. I am free to spend some time as I wish. I want to go back to Chicago and spend more time with my mom. At 97, she should have the gift of family. Her friends are long gone. Amazingly, all her kids are still here. And I am a bright light for her. I can sense her appreciation for my existence, which appreciation often eluded both of us.
I want to take my spouse and vacation. I want us to both feel the yolk of financial desperation lifted. Ditch the kids. Let her enjoy some time doing stuff now while she is young enough to be mentally and physically capable and present.
It is time to regroup. It was a regrouping which Chuck was undertaking also. He was making the effort to improve spiritually. He was working to be there for his spouse. Had he known a year ago of his untimely demise, he would have put the pedal to the metal. As the Buddhist say, death is certain, only the when is unknown. To be continued……