I just thought I would share this with you all.
My father, as some of you may know, has been unwell for some considerable time, and an elderly and frail man.
I have repeatedly over the last two years or so, asked my mother whether she needed me to go over to be with them at any time. They live in Italy, you see, and I am UK-based, and frankly, money is very tight.
She always declined the offer, because "well, if you come over, then you go home, and then I need you to come over again...It's not worth it...."
On the 15th of October, I asked her again, if I needed to go over to be with her,. and to help in any way.
This time, she responded with, "Yes....perhaps it would be a good thing if you came over....."
I flew out on the 17th.
My father passed away in the early hours of Thursday October 28th, at home, in his own bed, with my mother and me at his bedside.
It had not been a comfortable, peaceful or restful night, and there was some distress on his part during the hours before he died.
But it was almost as if some...being, or essence, was slowly travelling up his body, from his feet, mindfully and gently flicking all the switches to 'off' until, at 6.45am, he seemed to say "This is the last switch, ok?, and I'm about to flick it"....and then he was just...... gone.
Things happen very quickly in Italy, and funerals generally take place the following day, but those responsible were more than happy to delay things a further 24 hours to permit my two brothers to join us.
The Funeral took place on Saturday 30th, and the church was packed to overflowing.
The service was simple, the music breathtakingly appropriate, and the experience moving, but neither maudlin nor morose.
I read a brief précis my mother had written, on his 90 years of life, (how do you condense a life well lived for nearly a century, onto two A4 sheets of paper?) then ended with an anecdote of an incident which had always made me smile wryly, but which in re-telling, made everyone laugh, and applaud.... Italians like applauding....
I had wondered, in these two past years, just how well my study, understanding and acceptance of Attachment/Detachment would actually 'serve' me when it came to the crunch.
I mean, it's all well and good speaking of attachment and detachment, and understanding what it entails, and accepting the premise of the Buddha's wisdom therein, but I mean.... actually ''doing' it....? How's that going to work, really? I mean.... really?
I shed natural tears, and felt some nostalgia and sentimentality, and knew then, how much I would miss him, but all in all, I actually felt an overwhelming peace and acceptance.
During the night of his dying, I kept stroking his head, and telling him to 'let go, it's fine, just relax and let it go'.... and I'd like to think he heard me, and complied, but of course, it may just be fanciful wishful-thinking to believe it so....
But it all felt absolutely right.
Both my brothers fell to pieces, but I put this down to the fact that they had not been present to witness his gradual, inexorable but actually fairly rapid decline.
They both said, however, that they marvelled at how strong I was, and how supportive and compassionate I was.
I didn't feel this at all. I just felt that things were as they were, because that's the way they were.
So all I would say, is this:
Keep studying attachment and detachment. absorb all you can, and really get to grips with it.
Acceptance of things as they are, is big, in this.
And know and love all those around you, who will probably not have got it quite as deeply as you, and will be the ones in need of support, compassion, a shoulder to lean on and an arm to cling to.
THEY'RE the ones who will need you.
And don't try to explain, elaborate, clarify or give opinion.
Just be there.
because that's just the way things are.