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Lions Roar : July 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 49 his night table, gently put his Tibetan rosary around his neck, lay beside him, and cried. I couldn’t believe after all our time together, “the now” also meant the end. I’d never thought of the present moment also being the last moment with someone. Georg lay awake gasping for breath, while I sat beside him praying for some small miracle to happen. I even played with the idea of bargaining something for his life, but not believing in a savior I had no idea whom I’d offer that bargain to. I cried, I paced, I got angry, and then I collapsed into the realization that I was helpless in this situation. Nothing I could do would change the fact that my spiritual partner and lover was dying right in front of me, so I made the conscious decision to sur- render and be acutely present for him, for me, for us. Time became irrelevant as the days passed. People visited and left in the same way people drift in and out of one’s life. For days the air was filled with stories, food, laughter, tears, frus- tration, anger, and love. It seemed every moment was healing for people—except for me. I was left numb and not knowing how I was going to continue after Georg was gone. Everyone else seemed to be able to make peace with his eventual death. I knew in my heart that I wanted to give my lover some gift, but what does one give the dying? I sat in meditation with that question, and the answer came to me very quickly. Georg spent his life thinking he hadn’t made a significant contribution to the world, even though I told him otherwise almost daily. I went to my desk and found the emails of Georg’s colleagues, friends, and other people he spoke highly of, and I emailed them with this simple request: “Georg is now in his final transition. I’ve been spending my days and nights holding him and reading let- ters people have sent. If you have a message you’d like to convey, please feel free to send it to me and I will read it with love from your heart through mine to Georg’s.” Every person I contacted sent a message within a day or two, and the process of weaving a healing blanket of words began. Sitting on Georg’s bed, I read each letter and watched him transform in front me. At the end of the day, we held each other as tears flowed down our cheeks, and he whispered to me, “That was the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received. Thank you.” My work was done. The only thing left to offer was my mo- ment-by-moment love until our moments were gone. During the days and weeks after Georg’s passing, people thanked me for emailing them and said it was a great gift to be able to convey their love and respect to someone who was dying instead of holding them in their mind and body until their own death. Today, months later, I still invite Georg to sit with me. I dream of him and wonder where he is. Grief has become my friend. It’s carved me into someone who is often unrecogniz- able. I go to bed weeping and wake up smiling, then go to bed smiling and wake up weeping. Very little makes sense in the world of grief. It consumes me and yet it nourishes me. ♦ BRENDA FEUERSTEIN is currently writing a book and developing a workshop series on conscious dying and grief. PHOTOBYTOMSULLAM/MILLENNIUMIMAGES,U.K.