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1-16-11 - Elizabeth Sawyer writes on
My visit with Darlene and Tony on Friday Jan 7, 2011
I spent several hours with Darlene Friday. She was in good form. She ate half and orange, some bread and butter and drank a whole glass of water. She told me that Keith (her student who is an M.D.) told her she could live a long time in this state "as long as she stays hydrated". She looked no worse for wear than she did at the Oct. sesshin. She was smaller and weaker but still stood and walked on her own. We talked for a long time. I was surprised by her stamina. She joked and cried and told me many things.
She asked me to unwrap everything in her box of stuff that she and Daya had wrapped and carefully marked re who is carrying what at her funeral. She asked me to take out every thing, every photo, and told me re each one, its history etc. She also said she wanted to include Barton, Ken and "Robin from Michigan if she comes" in the procession. We added a photo of Marvin and D for Barton to carry and will print out 3 e-mails from Baker-roshi that she and Tony thought were beautiful and humble.
When I suggested that these e-mails be put on the altar, she exclaimed, "Perfect!" We decided that Ken could carry them. She could not figure out what to have Robin from Michigan carry but I said that Michael could figure it out. When Tony said the we were crowding the Buddha on the altar, she said, "Buddha can take care of himself". Darlene forcefully asked me to "take charge" of the stuff and the list "So that Michael and Lew could concentrate on the ceremony". I was not prepared for this amount of force or for anything except to be with her.
As I showed her the skull bone mala that I had made for her for tokudo she suggested that Robin could carry it in the procession. I said "NO! I'll have to beat her up! Don't you remember, I made this and gave it to you. I want to carry it". She capitulated and said then" this will be a change". I reminded her that she and Daya had me listed as the carrier. I asked her if she wanted this mala to burn up with her. She sounded shocked and said emphatically, "No". I said, "It's just bone". Then she said she would have to ask Daya to take care of it [protect it from me]. I told her that I would guard it with my life. We were having fun and it was also intense and precious intimate time together.
At one point, she cried and marveled that Suzuki-roshi gave her nothing [everything]! She could not believe her fortune expressing the opposites she was experiencing concurrently. She was in a cosmic state of blessed understanding. She felt that she and Tony had done it just right in terms of establishing RRZ. She was greatly comforted that her students had told her of their plans to support themselves and continue on with out her, she marveled at her and Tony's relationship and about all of it she said, "This time it worked [out]. I took this to mean that she was feeling fulfilled and had some kind of perspective that either sometimes it does not work out or that other lifetimes had not worked out but that this one did. She was deeply satisfied with her lot. Occasionally she got lost and could not finish her thoughts but for the most part, she was her brilliant self.
When Darlene was crying and bemusing in wonderment how she fared given that Suzuki roshi gave her nothing, - I understood her as having a kensho experience. Later I thought, it's a samskaric thing. Same with all of our relationships. Where did we come from and why are we friends? All of the enduring ones no matter what I say or think to the contrary, I belong to Darlene. Tony, Nina, Daya, Zen, etc............
When Tony was taking a shower, she told me she wanted to get up. I asked her what she wanted to do. She said, "I am going to turn this way" and aimed towards the red sofa across the room. I helped her get settled and covered her up. When Tony got out of the shower, he was surprised to see her on the sofa and said, "How did you get over there?" He told me that the day was a good day for D and her animation towards me was about her and my relationship and that she could not sustain this level of energy. "She is definitely leaving her body".
When I left them, Tony came outside and said he didn't think this was good bye and reiterated what Keith had told them. But it was good bye and a very gratifying one for both of us. I think I would have been shattered if we had not had this time together.
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