I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death. Buddha
Faith died at midnight on the 24th of October. It is a date she would have liked. When I was ten years old she took me from school for half a day because someone had given her tickets to the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the official founding of the United Nations — 24th, October, 1945.
It was held at the San Francisco Opera House. In the way of many UN functions, individual countries got up and made speeches nominally about the subject at hand. Such speeches are usually small or large shots of propaganda about that particular nation’s own way of doing things.
And here I need to pause in this story to emphasise that my mother was in no way a Stalinist. She wanted justice for everyone — her life is a testimony to that. From the great distance at which she lived it was still possible to think the Soviet Union might be a good bet.
When the Soviet representative got up to speak the name Vlaldimir Lenin appeared. In the dim auditorium, among the official representatives, well dressed power brokers, and those who had obtained tickets because they believed, in the middle of McCarhyite America, there was the sound of someone clapping. It was my mother.
I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
- Buddha –
– Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh
Note: There are two more posts to record the arc of Faith’s dying. One I had roughed out before we were told she had hours or days and another to describe how we spent the last times.
Then, I presume, there will be more about the contours of loss.
10 thoughts on “I am of the nature to die.”
Thanks so much for posting. We loved her a lot.
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2013 16:52:48 +0000 To: email@example.com
It is comforting to know that she went peacefully and that you were able to be with her to ease the transition. We will miss her too and think of her often.
Thich Nhat Hanh – one of the true teachers. Thanks, Carole
Thinking of you x
Thank you for sharing your journey. This is such a precious and generous gift. Even as it triggers the pain of my own loss, your writing reminds me of the beauty and power of deep relationships. Change is inevitable, and endings are part of change. Yet, somehow, the past continues along with us, even as we change. Take care.
thank you Susan…
Thanks Carole. I’m so glad that you were there when she needed you. Thanks for sharing with us.
I’m really sorry to hear about your mother’s death. I wish you and your daughter strength during this time.
I’m in Wicklow for a week and yesterday we marked Sheila’s first anniversary.
All the best,
I remember Faith signing her letters to you at Goddard, “Your poor old grey-haired mother.” I remember staying parts of two summers in the ’60’s at Parnassus and Clayton, and the strange and wonderful people who inhabited your mother’s boarding house. Your mother was a remarkable woman. Anne and I wish you well through your travail.
Anne and Marc
Dear Carole, I lived in your mother’s house for almost 6 years and though I grew out of touch later, she has always been a very important human being to me. To me your mother was the spirit of freedom and the will to live life as full as she could imagine it. Her trust in me when I was so full of self doubt was a powerful lesson in how we can offer strength to one another even in the seemingly mundane duties of life. She was a great person, a fine artist and a friend to all who had a vision of something better. My sincere best wishes to you and your daughter.
Faith was not always the easiest person, but she embodied real spirit, a spirit that you have always brought with you as well. As always, Ken