Monday, December 17, 2007


Today was a very difficult day psychologically.
Today the realities of my health situation were shared with my 87-year-old mother.

My eldest sister and her husband thought it would be easier to deal with all around (but particularly from my perspective) if they went out to my mom's house and delivered the news face to face. This way, my mother's reaction could be guaged and the flow of details could be adjusted accordingly and conversational detours made.
I would then call her on the phone (we live about 50 miles apart). I had already made arrangements today to visit her Wednesday.

My prognosis was shared in a way that didn't mention death outright, but she is under no illusion that the outlook is anything but discouraging. Things were put in such a way that rays of hope were allowed to shine through. Thank God for rays of hope.

My sisters and my brother and I all were worried about how she would handle the news, about how she would bear up under the stress of hearing the worst news a mother can receive. But, not surprisingly to us, her example instead has revealed our own weaknesses, not least of which is underestimating her exceptional ability to handle crises with grace, compassion, love and calm. You would think we would know better by now.
And besides, she already had a very good idea of what was going on. Underestimating her maternal instincts was just another well-intentioned foible.

So, now, I have precious few secrets left.


Kuma said...

Dear Michael,

All the best through all this.
I would like to say that although the words of Mike Cross are very sharp and direct, he has a real point. I met many people receiving the precepts just before dying (that's what we all do and you should be reminded that you are not the only one, that I might just pop before you do, who knows?), and, in a way, there is too much hope from a Buddhist perspective.Trungpa used to give very irritating teachings on "no hope", he used to make a shamble of precepts ceremonies, turning up too late or not turning up at all...He was sensing too much expectation, a very hidden and heavy spriritual agenda filled with disguised materialism. Now, I don't say it is what you do, for I don't know you, but I know too well the trap and seduction of religious forms for being myself still addicted.The point of Mike is to push the button where it really hurts whereas all this compassionate goodies and sweets you get from various people including me are not, may be, true compassion. When you go through the Bardo, which we all do every day, you may understand that eventually, IT has no name and doesn't belong to any institution or form. You may understand, if you look into Japanese society, how wrong the priesthood and the whole system can be, it is all fucked up. And guess what, It is in the West too. That's what Mike wants to say as well. These little sangha doing their little thing with great intention of right doing are in fact, doing this good all Christian-greedy-self deceiving stuff without realizing they are doing it. Do you think you are special because you are going to vanish? You are not. We are all dying. Life and death are one. And these words, to many of your friends may sound harsh and unkind...And Deep down, you know there is some important truth to it. Michael, I believe as you do in love, but I dislike sentimentality for what it is. True love springs without you being there. Nobody left there. If you immerse yourself in the teaching of Rumi, you may find a voice like thunder that tells you to wake up, wake up.

Take care, and please, don't go neither to hell nor heaven, these are mere toys.

Mungo said...

Your posts are very grounding, and strengthening - wishing you well and contentment. Funny how mums are, huh? The winter has piled up snow around here, same where you are too?
Don't know if you have read Irvin Yalom's 'Mama and the Meaning of Life', but I think you would enjoy it.

Jean said...

Wanting to protect the people we love is not so bad, better than the opposite... Thinking very often of you and everyone who loves you, Michael.

east village idiot said...

I'm sorry, I'm not like other people who post on this blog so I've been holding back for a while with comments.

I want you to live a long life.

I don't really give a fuck about running it through the religion mill. I have hope and I will focus my prayers on that.

Thank you for your beautiful posts and keeping us in the loop. We are out here thinking of you.

Michael said...

Yes, Pierre, you and Mike raise very good points that have me rethinking my motives and my understanding and that's why I want to smack Mike in the head just now.It's because he's brash and he's right and my ego doesn't like what he's doing. Yet, I also sincerely love you and he.

Michael said...

Hi Mungo,

Thank you. Haven't read that book yet. So many books, so little time.

Michael said...

Thanks, Jean.

Michael said...

Thank you, EVI. That's very kind.

Brotha Buck said...

I haven't been here in awhile, and dropped in to catch up. I'm sorry things haven't seemed to improve. You handle this all with such bravery, almost as though you are speaking of someone else. Makes my problems seem so small. Keep on keeping on, I know you will.

Lisa said...

Michael I love you and I admire every inch of you. I want you to be here forever but I want you happy and comfortable. Your beautiful mother gave you the gift of strength after all.

love lisa

Pierre Turlur said...

Thank you for being you: sometimes a great fraud as I and Mike are (And, by far, we are not the only ones), sometimes glimpsing the possibilty of true freedom. Sitting your bum on the cushion. Walking into this life, and with or without illness, just realize how happy you are. Awareness is one. Far reaching. You cannot map it (how could any cult or religion do it? Map it?).
You ahve nothing to redeem, nothing to claim. The teaching of Fukanzazengi is the teaching of what is. That is the liberating bit, nobody to please, Ego, Mike, you, me... Just be. Sit. Live. And as all of us...What comes first? Yes , I think I can say I love you if love doesn't mean: I am attached to you. Love is. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jules said...

Hi Michael,
Your inspiring strength and beauty of spirit shows through in your writing, photos, and poems. Thanks for sharing yourself so generously and unpretentiously with the world.