Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marking Time

There had been some discussion about what format the 21st day memorial ceremony for David was going to take. After the first iteration, last week we did a short service in the zendo as it was the fourth, and we also had the Suzuki Roshi memorial to do. In the end Paul wanted us to continue having the ceremony in the morning, so we had the first half of the regular Thursday service, and then chanted the Dai Hi Shin Dharani, followed by the special dedication.
Even though attendance in the zendo has been quite low this week, the Dai Hi Shin Dharani sounded very strong, suitably grave. Perhaps I am just used to doing it in the afternoons now, when there are even fewer people, most of whom are not so familiar with it.
Because I was in sesshin, I did not get to attend the cremation ceremony last week, and I am noticing in myself that a sense of finality is missing around David: I am aware of his absence in different ways and in various circumstances, but then this week I am also aware of the absence of all the participants in the intensive, who had formed such an integral part of the community in the preceding weeks. I suppose this is why so many cultures have a tradition of sitting with the body, so that you can get used to the idea that the person really is gone. Even doing the ceremony we did on the afternoon before sesshin, Paul purifying his room with wisdom water while a group of us circumambulated it chanting the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, moving as it was, did not quite bring it home to me.


Lydia L said...

Thank you for saying this out loud publicly. Although I know conceptually my difficulties and suffering are not mine alone, it's difficult to feel the connection and dependant co-arising of all beings without validation. I too have been struggling with these changes in my life. The abbreviation of my practice schedule feels like going from 60mph to 20mph in seconds. I also keep believing i'll see David and then remember that he's dead. It's all causing me to lean to the left. But these reminders that others whose practice I regard with honor and respect work hard for uprightness allows me to readjust to balance, if for a moment. With a bow...

Anonymous said...

Shundo, I suspect you have no idea the extent your practice and the honesty with which you reveal it to others through your blog, affects those of us who read it.

As someone who contemplated doing the same as David while I lived at City Center, his death has given me great cause for reflection.

I cannot begin to tell you the amount of strength I draw from this blog. It has given me renewed hope and rekindled my practice. How I wish you'd been around during my time at Zen Center!

With deep gassho

cohahn said...

Dear Shundo:

I have been wanting to sit down and write to thank all again for the support that Michael and I received when we came to make preparations to bring David home and sort and clear through his stuff. It has been hard to get motivated.

My parents are doing their best but remain deeply sad. My brother has returned to Europe where that exciting and recent move has lost some of its shine. I have settled into a phase of confusion accompanied by emotions that shift wildly by the hour. I often feel like my legs are gone. I am decidedly not suicidal - never have been. But this is a rough journey that we are on.

I have done a number of things that I am not going to suggest to anyone because grief takes its own shape in all of us and if you really want to piss someone off - tell them what you think they should be doing especially around grief. That said, I have reached out to Samaritans in Boston. For me, grieving my brother's loss and his suicide are not the same and it is perplexing. Fearful and perplexed are the constants currently. Samaritans have survivor meetings weekly here. They have fellow survivors manning phones 24/7 to talk. They send survivors to visit with you if you can deal with that. Some are probably irksome but most are just understanding and helpful - somehow.

We are starting to plan a memorial service locally for October. Steve Stuckey has pointed me to a Soto Zen priest who is local. Still fuzzy on the details because I sometimes feel like I can’t lift my arms when I start draft preparations. Rather than try to do this myself which I am stupidly prone to do I am going to rally the troops (friends of David and my husband and I) and delegate.

Next summer we plan to return to Tassajara. We were told that David’s ashes could scattered or urn buried David’s ashes have not been shipped yet.

We are waiting for his death certificates. Without wanting to be morbid, it may be helpful for the Center to have a copy. It is not his body but it is, regrettably, pretty definitive.

In case anyone did not know, his Rakasu and lineage papers were with his body when cremated and we returned his Robe to Greg at Tassajara. I have his Oryoki kit which I nabbed because I thought it would be nice to have at his service here and then return it to Tassajara or City Center for another’s use if that is appropriate.

I am concerned about everyone at the Center and Tassajara especially those who were really struggling with this and who knew David. I worry about Mark and Tanya who found David. They know he's gone. I truly love them both and hope that they are coping. Man, you are all so lucky to have each other.

If anyone did not get to talk with me or Mike and would like to, drop me a line at We missed a bunch of people we were supposed to meet with at Tassajara because we were fading out from exhaustion.

With appreciation and love,

Stephen Coady

cohahn said...

I thought people might find this amusing.

Trip back from Tassajara: low tire pressure light and bell - checked repeatedly, no problem visible. Hot transmission light and loud bell. Pull over, keep in neutral until alarms stop per manual (done repeatedly with no luck). Unhitch hood and harshly jam large log like branch so hood remains a bit open. Works! Pull off Tassajara Road - flat tire. No warning. Pull into Jiffey Lube. They wave us in and start to change the oil. We explain we have a flat. They do not fix flats. Big sign on wall. Do you still want the oil changed? No sir - we never did in fact. Pull in front of Jiffey Lube and try to remove tire. Tire bolts apparently welded on and then superglued for good measure. Gay guy can’t change a flat. That felt good. Called AAA - fixed! Get to airport just in time for Mike’s flight. Off he goes - bye Mike. See you in Boston (we could not get the same flight) when I land an hour after you. Go to JetBlue to check in big bag of David’s stuff. Can’t recall how to check a bag in and as I look at departure screen it changes from 10PM to 2AM. Head for bar. 2AM flight taxis to runway as the next to depart. Return to gate - plane will not boot up properly (seriously Arrive Boston two months later and David’s bag has apparently exploded. It is on the turnstile and taped like nothing I have ever seen. People were laughing. Realize Mikes phone and charger were left in rental.. Oh, that’s why he didn’t pick up. None of this made me angry. I just kept rolling.