On receiving bad news

Death is that great existential puzzle which gnaws at us most the longer we live. We know it comes-it has, after all, “taken” some, if not many people we have known by the time we are middle-aged- but we can´t help but deny it, no matter how hard we say otherwise. Yes, it is always there, lurking behind the figures and shadows of our lives, but still it is “over there” somewhere distant, apart from me, away from mine. This changes yearly as the circle tightens and loved ones or dear friends or family begin, one by one to go. I can accept, I can acknowledge, I can even understand and convince myself (easily) that it happens to all. I can retreat into “Wisdom” that is given me by my spiritual training or tradition and calmly bow my head in the certitude of it. I can cry if I like, but it will come nevertheless. And I still get angry, am puzzled and remain frustrated that Death is coming for my friends and there is nothing I can do.

A friend is sick, very sick. He helped create some wonderful memories during my grad school life at Saybrook University and was with me as a mentor-friend who´d remarkably shared both Tibetan Buddhist training and a love of Latin culture. I am distressed and know both “raging against the dying of the light” and manufacturing Eastern placidity in its face are not options for me. They are not what I feel. I am saddened and shocked and the distress is deep. Deeper than words and understanding, deeper than my “knowing” it happens to all. I feel like an animal braying at an eclipse or lightning, awed and struck by the Unknowable Awe-full-ness of existence which moves in its own way cyclically and inevitably spiraling back toward me.

And I am of no help, with no wise words, and no cures.

Damn! I am tired of this. I love you all, and this experience called Life, the only experience we share for sure, is rich to me, incalculably rich. And it is all I really know. The rest is a puzzle…


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