In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Better and Worse

Dear friends,

Just a brief update on Mimi today. Her leg is feeling better, the pain has decreased considerably. One person on Mimi's health care team speculated that she had an injury that led to blockage of lymph drainage. We're learning that functions of the body that we take for granted while we're healthy simply don't work properly when we're sick and dying. Perfect reason to develop renunciation and get the heck out of this contaminated existence. Mimi's energy is low and appetite is waning a bit. Her cognitive functioning is noticeably in decline. She has, however, gotten out of bed a couple of times (under Richard's supervision), which we weren't expecting. Another lesson learned: it's impossible to predict the course of these last stages of Mimi's illness. What a huge reminder that absolutely nothing that happens outwardly is within our sphere of control. One area where we have been able to make an impact is in hiring the home health care agency. Workers spend three nights a week here and Richard has been able to get some uninterrupted sleep. A care worker has just arrived for an afternoon shift while Richard attends his support group meeting. Providing support for Richard is almost as important as caring for Mimi, and we are so grateful for everyone who is helping to do so!

With love,
Boswell

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Better, But Still Not Coasting

Dear friends,

Good news: after yesterday's crisis, Mimi is feeling a bit better today. Her leg is still hurting, but not as badly, and she hasn't had to use any supplemental pain meds today. However, it's looking like she won't be leaving the bed very much from now on. To prepare for this eventuality a hospice bath aide was here today, and she gave Richard a tutorial on how to effectively and safely move Mimi around in the bed. Also, the first visit from an employee of the home health care agency happened last night. The care worker stayed awake and alert so that Richard could get a full night's sleep. What a difference it made! Thanks again for your support and prayers, they're make a huge impact here.

With love,
Boswell

Friday, September 23, 2016

No More Coasting

Along with summer in Seattle, our coasting phase seems to have vanished. Things are getting rough. Mimi is having a harder time with mobility because of some pretty severe leg pain. She's taking extra pain meds and is experiencing bouts of nausea and vomiting. Toileting is getting tricky. Today we had an intake visit from a home health care agency and will have the first overnight help starting tonight. The care agency workers are so friendly and supportive! And even with all of these health challenges, Mimi cracked a funny joke earlier that made me laugh. Richard and I also support each other with humor, even when the humor is dark. And of course we rely constantly on the dharma in our hearts, along with blessings and the support of our amazing sangha! For those of you in the area and who are interested, please keep the visits coming. Even when it seems like you're not really "doing" anything, having a friend or two around can be so supportive emotionally and spiritually. If you're not close by, feel free to continue with your prayers and messages!

(Just a note to those of you who have been responding directly to the blog update that arrives in your email inbox, I haven't been seeing those replies as they are directed to Mimi's email address. I saw quite a few of them today, so thanks for your ongoing support! My apologies for unintentionally neglecting to answer your questions, if you'd like to communicate with me and ask questions, please email rebecca-dot-lafond-at-gmail-dot-com.)

With love,
Boswell

Monday, September 19, 2016

Giving Thanks

Last week Richard prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for himself and Mimi. Turk'y Roast (made with Quorn), and mashed potatoes and gravy. A raspberry Linzer tart with homegrown raspberries for dessert. Thanksgiving has always been Mimi's favorite holiday, and since it's likely she won't still be here (or be eating much if she is here) at the end of November, Richard wanted to enjoy it with her now. It was a lovely and sentimental experience. And delicious! For those of you who don't know, Richard is a phenomenal cook. How wonderful that he has these opportunities to share his gifts with Mimi.

As far as health updates go, there's really no new news to report. Mimi continues to decline gradually. She's been having a bit more pain so has been taking a little extra pain medication, but not enough to justify an increase in her baseline pain meds. It seems that the pain she's experiencing hasn't been acute, just a general increase in discomfort. The hospice nurse was here today and he said that in brain cancer, with good baseline pain control, it's common for the patient to not have episodes of acute pain, even up to the end of life. Mimi is still eating heartily, but her energy is really low. She and Richard are feeling the effects of your strong prayers, so please keep them coming!

With love,
Boswell

P.S. Good news: she doesn't have a UTI.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Coasting

Dear friends of Mimi,

It's been a while since the last blog post, mostly because Mimi has been cruising along pretty much the same since she moved into the hospital bed. There have been a few instances of breakthrough pain and nausea (meaning the regular meds she's taking for those symptoms aren't enough to keep the symptoms at bay), but they've been pretty easily handled by small doses of supplemental meds. As of today, her head pain is quite a bit worse and she's taking more of the extra meds than she has before. She's also experiencing some new pains in her body, which may be due to a number of causes, including spread of the cancer. It's also possible that she has a UTI, and the hospice nurse is coming by this afternoon to check in. Please keep the prayers coming that she'll remain fairly comfortable and content, and look for another blog update soon.

With love,
Boswell

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Up-Lifted

Dear friends,

Just a very quick update on Mimi. Monday she had a rough day with some breakthrough nausea, discomfort and pain. It had been quite a hectic weekend with a visit from Kadam Lucy, then all the coming and going with the post-festival review, so probably the setback was (at least in part) due to that. I'm happy to report that as of yesterday Mimi's feeling much better! Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Mimi's health setback was a wake-up call for those of caring for her, and we realized that it was past time to order the hospital bed. Yesterday we had a crew of muscular sangha here to help move the queen-sized bed out of the bedroom, to be replaced by the new bed delivered soon after by the local hospital supply company. So much kindness! Mimi is now comfortably ensconced in a bed that has adjustable height for ease of entering and exiting, as well as a raisable head that makes it easier for her to read and eat. Even the foot of the bed can be raised! Soon she'll be levitating ;)

It's been such an inspiration to quote Mimi in past blog posts, and now the spotlight is turned on you, dear readers! Here are some of your kind words to and about Mimi over the last few years in your blog comments when she was posting about her cancer diagnoses and treatments...

You are the bee's knees, Mimi. - Kelsang R

Thanks for your inspiring blog, I think of you every day in my prayers. - LK

You look great, the power of prayers and faith. - BH

Lots of love and prayers to you Mimi... May Medicine Buddha bless your body and mind. - LM

You are so amazing and inspiring. May you realize the union of the two truths .. may we all! - TC

You are safe in Venerable Geshe-la's mandala and he'll be with you the whole way. - Kelsang L

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you, Mimi. - CI

I really like your blog and your spirit. - T

Sending love and prayer to you Mimi! - HC

I wish all of us could have this strength and determination every single moment in our lives. -  M

You are a wonderful example. - KLJ

Hooray! You are brave! - UM

Love and blessings. - NJ

It's inspiring how you are transforming this condition and creating beautiful minds. - LB

Rejoicing! - SC

May everything be perfect for you all the time, and you always feel bright inside. - M

Praying for you, Mimi. May all the Buddhas bless your mind. - Anonymous


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mahamudra Dreaming

Hello friends,

This weekend we are receiving a review of the summer festival teachings on Mahamudra. Kadam Lucy just led us in a wonderful meditation on the emptiness of the self - naturally quotes from some of Mimi's earlier blog posts on emptiness are in order. Follow the links if you'd like to read the entire post (recommended).

She posted in 2012 about a teaching that Gen-la Dekyong had given at summer festival that year. Gen-la mentioned that she had mistaken a dead brown leaf blown by the wind for a little mouse scurrying across the yard. Mimi says about hearing this story, "I was thinking that I didn't have this kind of mistaken appearance very often, but then I soon found two examples: I saw a bowl with a curled-up banana skin as sliced lemons, and a small stick as a thin black slug like the one that I'd seen earlier that day. Because we have so much faith in what we see, recognizing these mistakes helps undercut that confidence and helps lead us to understanding subtle mistaken appearance, believing that the things we normally perceive truly exist."

Also from 2012: "Years ago at an offsite emptiness retreat on Vashon Island, my first Teacher described our involvement with objects we see as being like a dancer and their dance: There is no dance without the dancer. There is no object without a mind perceiving the object. "It takes two to tango," as the expression goes : ) "

Who knew Mimi was a poet?! In this post during election season 2012 entitled "Lies" she shares a bit of emptiness wisdom in poetry form, then ends the post by saying, "And you thought I was going to write about the election, didn't you? : ) "

Finally, from summer of last year, she shares this story in a dream she had: "In the dream, a bunch of Sangha friends came to my house and sang chanted prayers and recited the Heart Sutra. It was glorious. Obstacles were definitely removed, blessings definitely received. A person called Mel had apparently organized it all and played DJ. All the Buddhas were there, with the female wisdom Buddha Prajnaparamita in the starring role... Even though it was hot, everyone seemed to go away even happier than they arrived."

This last post especially touched my mind because, well, it's hot again :) and Buddha Prajnaparamita is still in the starring role :D. Mimi had a visit from Kadam Lucy yesterday, which I think was very meaningful to her. Kind, wonderful friends are spending time at the house this weekend so that Richard can attend the review teachings at the temple.  Health-wise, Mimi's still in the phase of gradual decline, no major changes. She's still fatigued, still has a pretty good appetite, a bit of occasional nausea when she overexerts herself. For those of you who have been looking forward to regular posts, I'm going to hold off posting further until there's a more significant change in Mimi's condition. So if you don't hear anything for a while, be assured that things are continuing along here as they have been for a while.

With love,
Boswell
rebecca-dot-lafond-at-gmail-dot-com