Love, Suffering, and Acceptance
In recent months, my wife and I have witnessed death and grief among peers and friends our age and younger. At the same time, we are observing the end of a generation that came before us, and the inevitable health challenges that are natural consequences of aging. I’m reminded at times like this of the importance of our relationships, of being close to the suffering of people we love. When we embrace and support one another in times of pain and suffering, we are engaging with life where it happens, no less than when we embrace the gift of life and the beauty that surrounds us and resides within us.
I just read an essay this morning, written by an acquaintance who died last month. I didn’t know him well, but I knew from friends about the serious health problems he lived with for many years. He had been through multiple losses in his body, part by part, for a long time. He was grateful for his life. He attributed his ability to embrace unavoidable suffering in life to his willingness to accept it all, and to his daily practice of meditation:
It is the practice of staying in the moment that allows me to benefit from a life that does not stay entangled in bad decisions and their unwholesome results, or worry myself into a ball of hopeless depression over events that have not made themselves manifest, and for all I know may never. – Michael Crowder
To read Michael Crowder’s complete essay and Dawson Wells’ reflections on Michael’s life, visit onedharmanashville.com.
When Peter’s father called me to tell me Peter was dying in a Minneapolis hospital, I flew there quickly, but he was comatose. The next day, as I was gazing out the window, he said “I apologize to everyone”. His eyes remained closed, and once again, and forever, he was unresponsive. I would not have believed my ears, but there was a nurse in the room, writing in the chart, who, without looking up, nonchalantly said “He doesn’t have to apologize to me”. What a gift it is to hear final words! And what final words! I hope to steal them.
Grief is a beautiful red rose with numerous huge thorns.
Thanks Paul for sharing your moving story about Peter’s departure. I didn’t learn about his death until a year later. I had lost his contact information when he moved and, regretfully, lost touch with him. I had a long chat with his father afterward, and we exchanged some stories. I know you and Peter were close for many years. He was a unique individual, and you were both fortunate to know each other so well for so long.