December 16, 2009

A Holiday Meditation on Death

A brief candle; both ends burning
An endless mile; a bus wheel turning
A friend to share the lonesome times
A handshake and a sip of wine
So say it loud and let it ring
We are all a part of everything
The future, present and the past
Fly on proud bird
You're free at last.

Written by Charlie Daniels en route to the funeral for Ronnie Van Zant.

I had a brush with death the other day, and it was scary. Am I prepared for my own death?

The elderly neighbour that lives in the unit above us had been going through chemotherapy for several months. Her last days were a struggle with weakness and blackened, painful fingers.

We were home when her relative came by to do a regular check. The relative discovered that our neighbour had passed on. Her little dog was at her side. The relative was overcome with an immediate wave of shock and grief. She sobbed the woman's, and the dog's, names over and over.

Later, I thought of my death. I looked at Linda and imagined life without her after 22 years of being best friends. I thought of my friend who is dealing with the loss of his dog Willy. A couple nights later we watched Marley and Me. Everything we hold and love and cherish will be taken away.

I was forced to consider non-attachment, and how difficult it is in a world full of material possibilities and instant gratification.

The Dalai Lama recommends meditating on death for a short while every day. This prepares us for the inevitable, and helps us to be mindful in the joy of life.

My neighbour's death was a powerful reminder of the fate that awaits us all. Her passing has reminded me to squeeze the bubbles of the past and the future into the bubble of the present, and enjoy the magic moment we are existing in. All we have is the here and now, and each moment is a precious jewel.

I am going to enjoy as many of them as possible. I want to come to terms with death so I can live. Life is uncertain - do not hesitate.

While making your living, don't forget to live.

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