My grandmother has lung cancer–but death doesn’t scare me anymore.
I’ve been holding off on posting this, because I wanted to make it thoughtful; however, since I’m still developing my thoughts, I realized a complete post on may never come to fruition. So, this email I wrote to a friend will just serve as a brief update until I can write something more thoughtful:
My grandmother is on pain medicine and she’s doing chemotherapy. She has lung cancer. It’s been such an interesting experience for me since I found out in August.
It was weird. One Wednesday I had the urge to book tickets to see her for a weekend visit. I called her on Thursday to tell her I was gonna be there on Friday. On that call she told me she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. It didn’t freak me out–it was like my spirit already knew.
When I went down there, we spent a lot of time just doing nothing. She lives in an assisted living apartment near a beach, so when I was driving to my aunt’s beach house at like 1.30 in the morning after hanging out with my grandmother, I pulled the car up on the beach all the way to the waves and I started crying.
That night, what I realized is that death is nothing to be scared of. It’s just the next phase. I started reading Buddhist texts about Death and Dying, and I’ve started to understand that there is no end and no beginning. It’s just transformation of form. My grandmother is starting to understand this, too.
My grandmother didn’t want to do chemotherapy. She wanted to just accept this as another stage of her life. She told me she has had 87 years of beauty and love–something most people don’t get to ever experience. She was happy just taking pain medicine until the end.
We do so much in life to try to run from death and aging–but it’s part of this existence. We can’t hold on to memories or people or things. Everything changes and transforms–but people we love and moments we love are always there, it’s just our perception of their form that has changed.
Anyway, later in the month, I’m bringing lots of good food and champagne to my grandmother, and she and I are going to have a party to celebrate the time we shared together on this beautifully twisted roller coaster ride called life.
Ever since I realized that life is just transformation of state, I’m not scared. I’m happy to understand that everything is interconnected and woven into the underlying fabric of the universe. You and I–all of us–are always changing state and are always a part of everything.
I’ve always been one to say I’m not scared of death. The last 18 years of Buddhist studies helped mold those ideas. And although I suffered a lot of loss early life, it was the underlying youthful fearlessness that propped up my lack of fear towards death. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve become more aware of the value of life, and the concept of death being an “end” started to form.
It’s that notion of an end that we are scared of. We run from it and pretend that death won’t happen to us–but it will: Like a slasher film, no one leaves this place alive.
The thing to know is that there is no beginning or end. There’s no coming or going. There’s just transformation. The right circumstances arise and we are blessed with a human manifestation. Like a wave, we have our own form, but its underlying essence of ocean or water is unchanged. When a wave crashes against a shore, it doesn’t end, it just transforms. It is always water.
I’ll explain the esoteric stuff in a later post. This is just an update. Most of my personal writing lately is happening in a hand-written journal. I’m thinking about scanning the entries and posting those raw. Maybe I’ll transcribe them. In any case, I hope to have that up before the New Year
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