On Bill Lane
A couple of emails from Tony Patchell who kept close to Bill through his illness and took care of him along with Annette Lyle toward the end.
Re Bill; failing fast. I think he'll live maybe a month if that. I'll
have a better take on it within a few days. Turns out his nurse case mgr
is a friend of mine (Susan Rice's partner) which is very helpful.. Annette
is up & running, tons of time & energy. (Thank You, Jesus!!). She
plans to talk to Bill today re disposal of remains, memorial svc wishes,
etc. I went to see him yesterday to do that but he fell asleep about 5 min
after my arrival & then I did too. Woke up 3 hrs later & had to
leave right away. I updated Mel, Michael W., Fu, left a message for Reb,
& I talk to Linda Lupo 1+ times a week. Bruce sees Bill 1X a wk &
we keep in touch. Bill called me 1:30 this AM. He had fallen, lost his
phone in the dark & spent 4hrs sliding & crawling around until he
found it. I drove in, picked him up, straightened things out, waited until
his morphine kicked in & left around 4:00AM.
I do keep thinking about a remark made by Bill last Spring that, in my mind, typified, exemplified, his way of being in the world. He said, "I only watch French movies because they are invariably, always, about relationships between people."
So, a typical Bill like statement: the 1st clause states the case, his position, as it were. Direct, matter of fact, concrete, based upon considerable information and experience and then presented as fait accompli, take it or leave it, with the heavy implication that if you don't then so much the worse for you for persisting in ignorance. This is the 1% of Bill that we all saw all good deal of the time. The 2nd clause, there for all to hear and so often missed, is the other 99% of Bill. He was very adept at moving about in the vast world of feeling and intuition, in the world of quiet, persistent practice that we keep to ourselves, and that we may sometimes see flickering out of the corners of our eyes. Bill rarely shared his thoughts and experiences of these other realms and that may be our loss as well as his. But now it doesn't matter, no blame, no traces. I can assure you that Bill died a good death and I do not use the term as cliché. He faced and dealt with the grim, physical facts of dying head on, moment to moment, without complaint.
Three weeks ago I had a dream in which Katagiri Roshi stood before me in the midst of a pearly white, translucent fog. He kept saying, very insistently, "Engaku! Engaku!" (which translates as "Supreme Attainment," "Buddha's Enlightenment") I knew the dream was not about me but was about Bill. I told him of the dream the next day and he said, "I had the same dream. I thought it would be Suzuki Roshi who would come see me." I said, "Well, they are close and they're both in the same business." And he said, "Ah yes, you're right."
When Bill drew his last breath, his rakusu, given to him by Suzuki Roshi, his mala, and his shuso fan, were upon his breast. We chanted the Heart Sutra and then sat around the bed eating ice cream and telling funny stories about Bill. All was quiet, the room felt spacious and peaceful.
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