The list is long today. This last week and weekend took an unexpected turn when Linda's mother's health became worse and she found herself at her mother's bedside waiting for her final breath. Her mother went peacefully yesterday evening. Sometimes the death of a loved one is a relief knowing their suffering is over. It's easier to let them go. But there is still the place they hold in your life that might feel empty. I remember that when my own mother died and my sister. The air went out of the room and I felt empty spaces in places I cant describe. After many years of grief, I'm starting to understand that empty space as fear of my own mortality, regrets and attachments.
This week I was scheduled to cook at an eight day Rohatsu sesshin a zen retreat that marks the Budha's enlightenment. Two days before I was supposed to be there I needed to cancel. Linda was off to be with her mom and someone needed to be at the farm, so I traded places with the cook at Osage, he also has a deep practice in zen traditions so was very pleased with the opportunity. So, he is down in Chico Texas with the sangha and I am cooking in his place for the community and guests at the Osage Forest of Peace. That way I can drive back to the farm each evening and take care of milking and farm goings on. I understood the levity of the situation when I dropped Linda off at the airport and rushed to Stillwater to teach my last cooking class at the Wellness Center and rush then to pass the torch at the monastery. What have I gotten myself into?
When I realized how much work was ahead of me. I cried. How would I be able to do this? I spent a few hours feeling sorry for myself, but I continued to sit and meditate in spite of feeling rushed and exhausted. Finally I realized that all this was a small sacrifice in comparison to the overall need of not just Linda and her brothers and mother, but to Andy (the cook) who will now get to deepen his practice, and I get the gift of nourishing my friends at the Forest. When would I ever get an opportunity to be useful to so many at the same time. The farm is fine. maybe could use a little TLC but the animals are safe and well and the garden is doing its thing. Projects can wait. Thoughts can wait, plans can wait. Right now is what matters.
I have the day off to rest. I'll be picking Linda up at the airport this afternoon. A few things will get done. In some ways this is just what I needed to raise my own awareness and deepen my own practice. A change in plans should always come with a welcomed excitement. Each moment is so precious, each breathe such a miracle, and when we see that last breathe in a loved one, we see just how precious all the breathes that came from this person were, no matter the complicated relationships we've had with them. From the very first to the very last, every breath counted. Every breathe I take counts from my first to my last. I hope I can always remember that.