My father died tomorrow on a day just like today. I gave him CPR with my compadre. She ventilated and I did the compressions. 1993. It felt invasive, weirdly intimate. I never got that close to him. This was unfamiliar territory in every way. Touching him? Pressing on his heart with all my might? Calling him back with fierce honesty? “DAD, COME BACK!”
It became palpable that his spirit had left and he was floating above the scene above my right shoulder. I knew in my heart of hearts we could stop this process in this moment, but I also knew, in case doubt crept in, we had better keep going until help arrived. Maybe living with the fatality of it all would be easier then.
It was timeless and yet seemed like forever before the medics arrived. They did the paddle thing. Intubation. More invasion. It was very difficult to watch. So I didn’t.
The ambulance went one way and we went the other to pick up Ma. She knew something was wrong. We were late for lunch. Dad wasn’t with us. We must have had the whole story written on our faces.
I wasn’t about to tell her he was gone. I thought it possible a miracle could have occurred in the ambulance. Let the doctors tell her.
“Ma, we need to go to the hospital. Hurry.”
It was an intensely quiet and serenely alive transition on that drive. She was pissed. She didn’t want to be the last one standing. They were 51 years in the marriage. She knew he left.
The medical crew met us in the lobby. DOA.
“Do you want to see him?”
“Yes,” she said.
I lingered behind her in the doorway to the room he was in, giving her space to deal with what was about to unfold. Dad was laid out on the cold metal table with his flannel shirt, worn out work pants and boots still on.
She approached him slowly, out of sorts, agitated, scared to be left behind, it seemed.
A tear streamed down his cheek as she stood beside him.
Somethings cannot be explained rationally.
The Buddhists say if a cloud can’t die than neither can I.
I hiked today with my father. He was palpable, again, as was Ma. I felt them both in the trees, the wind, the colors, the land, in my blood and bones pressing me onward with the strength of my lineage.
I have his compass as a guide for many years now. I hang it in my work space for direction. He inscribed “DAD 1965” on it, the year I was born. I didn’t always appreciate how he showed up back in the day and with reflection and more clarity, I can honestly say I do now. He was a man of honor, loyalty, generosity and dedication to family. And he had a ridiculous sense of humor that I appreciate. I am grateful that his blood runs through my veins. He taught me a lot about simple, honest living.
Have you noticed the sound of a leaf falling? Its a perfect letting go~ the leaf lets go at the exact instant it is time to be released and it slowly descends back to where it came from. And the cycle continues; it received fully and gives itself back to Life again.
It was very windy today. My mother told me I would feel her caress on my cheek in the breezes that blow.
Like the rhythm of my breath, a distraction would creep in; a thought, story or worry would occupy my frame of reference and suddenly no one was on the hike, just a walking head of sorts. I would catch myself, the falling leaves would catch me, remind me, and say, “Let it go. Let it go.”
Yes~begin again, breathe. Step. Home. Notice. Here. Now. Beauty. Support. Life. Breath. Breeze caressing cheek.
Non~attachment, letting go, letting “it” go, surrendering to What Is (reality) is an advanced spiritual practice. Life happens. People come. People go. Health comes and goes. Jobs. Money. Friends. Partners. Family. And this too, will pass.
Something took this tree for a ride. Nearly broke its back. It corrected it’s trajectory and changed it’s destiny. It is still rooted and rising towards the sky from tapping deep in its own strength and the strength of Life. Until it gives way, once again to the release.
This body is sustained by altars
To the radiant nectar of life—
Around you, an ocean of air
Ready to become your breath.
Above the head, the glow of the invisible sun.
Within the spaciousness of the heart,
A pulsing throb of creation,
Where the breaths meet, fuse,
And transform into each other.
Whenever, wherever your mind wanders,
Whatever you wonder,
Return to the luminous.
Choose any altar—
Throw your attention again and again
Into one of these centers where spirit and flesh
Consummate their love.
Day by day, old whirlpools fade, the endless circles.
You are living in the temple of essence.
Sutra 28; The Radiance Sutras, Lauren Roche