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Last night a dear friend passed away. Those of us who were able to see him during his last weeks feel relief that he is no longer in pain, but the hole in our hearts is huge. He was a larger than life person, a seeker after spiritual experience, a lover of people, a traveler. He had just returned from a trip to SE Asia a few weeks before, feeling ill.

I learned a great deal from him about sitting with approaching death when his love, also a dear friend of mine, suffered and died of cancer almost five years ago. We bonded in that room, sitting quietly, holding the silence for her, allowing her to let go. She did. Now he did, also held by a loving wife, a devoted daughter and friends who will carry on his spirit and his love of people suffering from deadly addictions. He was helping people until his last breath, giving, loving, sending hugs, receiving love.

In our last talk in person, he said that he had an important message – “There is nothing to fear.” Nothing, not in death, not in sickness, not in continuing to live. No fear. What a gift. I saw him all day today in thousands of yellow fall leaves, falling gracefully to earth, without fear.

So, we lit a candle, sounded our bell and read the Five Remembrances when we heard that he had gone:

“I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.”

Jay Bott stands on firm ground. May we all do so.

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