November 4th, 2009:
There's a surprising amount of planning that precedes dying. Yes, there's the option to fall over the edge and leave the undone pieces to my unlucky friends who will get to wonder what I would have wanted. I'd rather look within and ask myself how I want to leave this world. It was that way with distributing my worldly goods. That turned into such a beautiful process with so many people, including myself, satisfied by the results. In the past few days, I've been walking through the steps that I'd like to take before and after my death.
First, I am identifying people who can take over the blog when I am no longer able to type or be lucid enough to express what I feel. There's a spiritual component, a physical portion and an emotional facet of me that I'd like to assign to separate individuals. They will have permissions to access the blog software and tell the reading community about each of these parts of myself. As they speak for me, they will answer all manner of questions about how I'm doing. There may be weeks or days of coma. During this period I'll have the comfort of drawing into myself, but there won't need to be waves of phone calls asking about what's happening. At this time, the telephone tree will move into activity as well. Branch callers will leave messages about my status. With these two sources of info, people close to San Francisco or around the world won't have to feel far away and isolated.
At some point, I will die and that notice will appear on the blog with context of how my passing transpired. In the hours before my death, I have asked that a limited number of people be in my room with me. It is their choice to join me or not. I know that I don't want a lot of people in the room, and that has nothing to do with my affection for all. I just want breathing room. For the three days after my death, it's a different story. One of the Buddhist traditions that I've always appreciated is allowing the body to lie on the bed for three days. During that time, people can come in and say goodbye. There will be four or five chairs in the bedroom. A schedule will help coordinate who shows up so there isn't a traffic jam followed by an empty lot.
Sitting at the bedside can be very healing. It's a time to say good bye and to say thank you. It can help with closure to see my dead body. There's a finality about a body whose soul has departed. Sometimes flowers are part of the goodbye, but not too many. Profound and unexpected feelings arise.
After three days, I will be taken for my cremation. The transformation from an intact body to a sack of ashes will occur. Again, blog entries will inform people not able to be here about the three days of sitting period and the cremation. Next step will be the announcement of the memorial service. Both blog and telephone tree will let people know about when the service will happen.
A big feature of the memorial service will be the CD that Beth Pielert and I have created so that I can be there with you. It's my last visit in your company. I talk about what I learned in this life; how I learned it; what the impact of this learning it meant for me. Initially, I had planned to hand out copies of the CD, but I am now investigating if I can post the material on the net and let everyone download it onto their machines at their will. Either way, the CD will be available for everyone.
Final posting on the blog will be stories of the scattering of my ashes. Currently, I know of four sites: Portland, San Francisco, Glen Ellen and rural New Mexico near Ghost Ranch. The blog will be closed and we will all move forward. This has been such an unexpected and full journey. Like all journeys it ends and it doesn't end. It will be the same this time as well.