Today is one year since our cousin was diagnosed with glioblastoma. One year later we are now sitting in a hospice facility counting the final moments of his life as family and friends come together.
The process of cancer makes its own unique timeline for each patient. For us, we were told that the average is about 14 months – seems about right. During this time, we have gone through the processes that families and friends do. The focus is on the illness, how did it happen, what can we do to stop it, how do we prolong life, did we do something wrong to deserve this?
Underneath these concerns comes the actual doing of caring for the patient, ourselves, and each other. It is in this process that I see the essence of who we are as individuals, family members, friends, and community. The process of caring for each other is the true measure of our Karma.
I define Karma as all things that have happened in the past that lead up to this day. It is a mix of Western Determinism and Eastern Karma. I reject the notion of good begetting good and bad begetting bad as value judgments left to others or within each culture.
Our cousin is 50 years old, has a loving wife, and 2 boys, 8 & 10. It is in their Karma that we are living during this process. They have built a broad community based on love. Our cousin is often cited for his advice on the bottom line always coming back to love.
In the past year, we have experienced the friends and family of our cousin and his wife flying from around the country to sit with them, staying for 2-day visits for pals, cousins, and siblings to do overnights to allow others to sleep. Siblings and parents put aside grievances to come together to share love, support, and kindness.
To be sure, the goodness did not magically begin with our cousin and his wife. They are both part of a process of love and giving that looks as different as the cultures from which they come and the uniqueness of each individual.
The generations of people in both families range from the effusive to the stoic, extroverts and introverts, happy and sad, with heritage covering many continents and religious beliefs. What they have in common is giving and loving. They believe in the essence of the goodness of people and that it is our job to be agents of positive experiences. In some way, we each see our place in the world, to make it a little bit better than when we got here.
So, this is the Karma of this family that revolves around this kind loving man dying surrounded by generations of friends and family who love and give and care for one another. While we may be sharing the physical end of our cousin’s life, we will continue to bathe in the Karmic love that he and his wife have created.