Eff you Impermanence!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been rather cryptic about some goings on in my life. Until now, I had to be sure a certain family member was aware of the situation before talking about it, and from what I know, they also know.
We, as Buddhist practitioners, are well aware that all things are impermanent, even those we love. We also all struggle with this impermanence, especially when it comes to those we love.
A quote I have tried to live by lately is one from Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi.
When you are strong and healthy,
You never think of sickness coming,
But it descends with sudden force
Like a stroke of lightning.
When involved in worldly things,
You never think of death’s approach;
Quick it comes like thunder
Crashing round your head.
In the past few years I’ve had some important people in my life pass away, my grandmother, my best friend, and various other acquaintances I’ve had through the years. While it has gotten easier and easier with each one, the affect they’ve had on my life has not been forgotten, nor will it. There are things I do each day that remind me of those that have come before me, and passed along the way.
Last year my family was given some unfortunate news, my father was diagnosed with cancer. This is all on top of the agent orange exposure he is still dealing with from being in Vietnam, as well as having a tainted blood transfusion that keeps him on medication to treat the ailment. He was treated by a doctor, and he recommended surgery. So, my father opted for the surgery and it was deemed a success, they cut out the cancer.
Last summer, 2009, he came up from FL to work and make some extra cash and stayed in our carriage house. He had lost a lot of weight, but overall he seemed to be ok, minus some tiredness here and there. He did some projects, he’s a builder and custom wood designer, from the old school.
We got to spend a good amount of time together, and it was great. Him and I would butt heads the whole time I was growing up. I was the typical, rebellious teenager. You know, thought I was invincible and didn’t have to listen to my parents, did what the hell I wanted no matter who it hurt.
Well, fast forward a few years, and that guy exists no more. My father and I were able to start talking about personal philosophies and practices. He mentioned to about an event he thought we should check out, it was the first time I met Chas Dicapua from IMS, where I ended up doing my first three day retreat, which Chas co-led. Anyway, it was crazy to be sitting, quietly in contemplation next to the man I thought at one point and time was my adversary. Like I said before, my teenage years could have been easier.
After the summer, he went back to FL and all seemed right with the world. My family was to be shaken again though. He was doing good for a bit, but during a check-up they found that the cancer had spread. He would need to have surgery again to remove it. Due to all the other stuff going on, and his age, he is unable to handle that trauma again. So they’ve tried some sort of pill, it’s new and very experimental, something to the tune of multiple thousand dollars per pill, and he has to take 4 of them a day. Yeah, luckily the VA picks up the tab, one of the very few things they have done for him (and other military members, but that’s another tirade).
The pill was never guaranteed to cure him, but more so meant to extend his life a bit. It has worked ok for a while, but from the reports my mother gives, there is not much time left.
He and my mother came up from FL this past weekend to attend my brother’s wedding and see the family. The whole weekend felt like this may very well be the last visit we have with him. It’s hard to be optimistic when you know what the outcome is going to be.
I’d say it’s easier knowing the things I know, about impermanence, but it hasn’t been easy. I dropped them off at the airport this morning, and not all the lyrics are spot on, but when I hit scan on the radio Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” started up. Any sense of optimism disappeared and impermanence rang loudly through my mind. His time is coming, the inevitable spares no one.
So, I hope to continue to work through this, as best as anyone can. This post is not meant to garner any sympathy, I just hoped to shed some light on what was going on and wanted to spare you the crypticity (yes, I just made that word up).