The Final Gate of Wisdom

            “Tell me again about the Gold Gate,” she said this morning.

            Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien wrote about the common passages people experience around the globe. Of the eight gates of wisdom, embracing death is the final gate.

            Non-attachment, accepting the death of my human body, and turning to the numinous light are the Gold Gate.

            We had been reading the Arrien book before the events of Thursday showed that Jeannie is nearing the end. After the initial confusion, Jeannie started tutoring us in her care as she passes through the Gold Gate.

            Non-attachment is difficult of course, but she trusts Annie and me and a palliative team to care for her needs. Her new vocabulary includes a “medical drink” of ice cream and root beer. Or rum and ice. She says “surprise” every time she sees her freshly squeezed morning orange juice. And when she says “overtop” she wants her sheets or blanket or comforter neatly arranged over her.

            She talks about the death of her physical body and accepts it. Her decreasing capacities, inability to walk more than a few steps at a time, more confusion, loss of strength. She sighs and cries, sometime laughs about the losses too. And hugs us often.

            The “numinous” light thrills her. She knows she is moving into the mystery and awe of a mysterious spiritual light, even saying she could feel it on the couch with the sun shining on her. Through tears she asked me if I am a “stay with me” or a person who will be with her to the end. Yes, I am her companion to the end. As is Annie.

            It’s all anyone wants. To be touched and loved and have a “stay with me” to the end. The Gold Gate.

Hugs, David

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