The Cook Awakening

Coming Home

April 6, 2016
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation

Today is my mother’s birthday. 4 years ago today, minus one day, she stepped off the plane in Portland with her faithful cat Izzy, and began her last months in a strange city and state.

I’m convinced the main draw for her moving here was the fact that Oregon has a right to die law in place. She did not want to live a long life. Her poor pride was decimated. She never meant to be so dependent, broke, sick, fat, and basically alone. (Please, don’t judge my use of these words. I am voicing what I’m sure was her inner critic’s attitude.)


Backyard nettles

In choosing to treat this year as my last to live (I’m facilitating a group based loosely on Stephen Levine’s book A Year to Live), I am encouraging myself to look at the lessons of those who have gone before me in death. I am examining my judgments. I have many. I would dearly love to lay those judgments down, to allow them to compost the way my body will, one day. The way all the ideas anyone who has died before me might have had about what SHOULD have happened. Who they SHOULD have been before death caught up with them. What they SHOULD have accomplished in their lives.

There’s one theme in the group I’m leading, the thought that death is rude, that we’ll all be forgotten, and that all we do will therefore be worth nothing. It feels like a sister to the thought that we have to fulfill our dreams/destinies before we die, and if we don’t, we’re…. what? Failures? Lost souls?

As I shared with the group recently, “There is no perfect life. We hear so much about the few people with wild “success,” (or extravagant failure) and the rest of the 7.25 billion… are weak disappointments? Most of us die with a whimper, not a bang. Is this an American thing, to think we ALL need to make a lasting mark on the world?” We are doomed if that’s the benchmark to which we’re holding ourselves.


Dent de lion

It’s funny, I feel like I’ve been fairly successful at deemphasizing the value of “things” in my life. That’s a rather obvious spiritual value. I can see that while I’ve been working on bringing the ego built around materialism into balance, I’ve allowed, even caused an ego structure to pop into my psyche that’s organized around what deep and significant lessons I learn or teach in the world.

It’s just a different kind of materialism.

I’m setting my intention toward living my life more simply. Much of what Stephen writes about is working with the mind in any given moment. Cultivating gratitude. Doing a gentle life review. Considering the possibility of forgiveness. Developing mindfulness.

He does not talk much about planning for death – filling out an Advanced Directive and writing down what we’d like to happen to our bodies after death. I have brought that piece into our group because I think it’s an important part of preparing for the inevitable. But, as I move forward, I’m feeling the power of the intention to bring this process more and more home – into the heart and out of the head. Out of “doing” and into “being”.

Preparing for death is more and more about “how am I showing up in this moment?” Because, let’s face it, when we die, that future moment we die in will be a this moment. We can only practice for that moment now.

The inquiry continues. I often take photos of the splashy, bright, cultivated flowers in my neighborhood. Today, I chose the humble plants in my backyard. Mint. Nettle. Dandelion. Beauty is in the simplest things, too.



I’m savoring more and more the little moments. Snuggling with my family and furries in the evenings. Enjoying food. Breath. Sunshine and color.

Coming home.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 6:24 pm and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


7 Responses to “Coming Home”

  1. Cindy Conlin Says:


    This is so beautiful and spoke to my soul. I am typing with teary eyes and through the reading my head bobbing up and down..yes.. yes..yes!

    Love and Blessings!


  2. Durga Fuller Says:

    Cindy, I take this compliment to heart. I know you have walked with death by your side. Thank you.

    Blessings back, now and always!

  3. Linda Rudnick Says:

    Durga-It seems more likely that your mother’s main draw to Portland was to be with you, her beautiful daughter. Love to you, Linda

  4. Durga Fuller Says:

    Awww, Linda – thank you. I’d like to think so. I also know how deeply dementia had set in by the time she reached here. She lived with a lot of confusion and anxiety, and really needed a safe haven. I’m glad I could provide that for her.

    When my family moved to Portland initially, she talked many times about how impressed she was that Oregon had right to die laws. It was on her mind for a long time. I think circumstances conspired to give her exactly what she needed here. There were so many gifts in how her last months played out.

    Love to you, too. <3

  5. Ashara Love Says:

    <3 <3 <3

  6. NIck Says:

    thanks for writing this, I wish I’d read it years ago.

    Much Love

  7. Durga Fuller Says:

    Love you, Nick. Glad you read it now. ❤️

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