The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

386 APPENDIX THREE

Sogyal Rinpoche's teachings, and she was delighted when he sent her

some tapes from Paris, which he said would have a special meaning

for her.

Dorothy prepared and planned for her death right down to the

last detail. She wanted there to be no unfinished business for others

to sort out, and spent months working on all the practical arrangements.

She didn't seem to have any fear of dying, but wanted to feel

that there was nothing left undone, and that she could then approach

death without distraction. She derived a lot of comfort from the

knowledge that she had done no real harm to others in her life, and

that she had received and followed the teachings; as she said "I've

done my homework."

When the time came for Dorothy to go into the hospice, and

leave her flat for the last time—a flat once full of beautiful treasures

collected over the years—she left with just a small holdall and without

even a backward glance. She had already given most of her personal

possessions away, but she took a small picture of Rinpoche that

she always kept with her, and his small book on meditation. She had

essentialized her life into that one small bag: "traveling light," she

called it. She was very matter-of-fact about leaving, almost as though

she were only going as far as the shops; she simply said "Bye bye,

flat," waved her hand and walked out of the door.

Her room in the hospice became a very special place. There was

always a candle lit on her bedside table in front of Rinpoche's picture,

and once, when someone asked if she would like to talk to him, she

smiled, looked at the photograph, and said: "No, there's no need, he's

always here!" She often referred to Rinpoche's advice on creating the

"right environment," and had a beautiful painting of a rainbow put

on the wall directly in front of her; there were flowers everywhere,

brought by her visitors.

Dorothy remained in command of the situation, right up to the

end, and her trust in the teachings seemed never to waver, even for a

second. It felt as though she was helping us, rather than the other

way round! She was consistently cheerful, confident, and humorous,

and had a dignity about her, which we saw sprung from her courage

and self-reliance. The joy with which she always welcomed us

secretly helped us to understand that death is by no means somber

or terrifying. This was her gift to us, and it made us feel honored and

privileged to be with her.

We had almost come to depend on Dorothy's strength, so it was

humbling for us when we realized that she needed our strength and

support. She was going through some final details about her funeral,

when suddenly we saw that, after having been so concerned about

others, what she needed now was to let go of all these details and

turn her attention toward herself. And she needed us to give her our

permission to do so.

It was a difficult, painful death and Dorothy was like a warrior.

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