My 10 year-old nephew William Hayden Jolly lost his grandmother last night. His father's mother passed unexpectedly. On the train ride to my studio, I wrote him a letter. I found it incredibly healing to write this letter. I want to share it with the Permission to Heal community because that's what we do here: share our healing journey with others.
Note: though this letter is written to my nephew, obviously, he is not the only one challenged by the loss of Martha Gail Jolly. I dedicate this letter to all of my family who have lost loved ones. You are my family. I dedicate this to you.
I hope this letter finds you with a smile on your face and peace in your heart. I've been notified of the passing of your grandmother and reminded of the many losses you have endured at such at young age. God calls upon you to be brave.
A great teacher named Matthieu Ricard wrote, : "a wise man enjoys a very special kind of freeedom: prepared for death, he appreciates every moment of life's bounty".
It seems like an impossible task, but you are becoming a man and awakening to the way of this mysterious life we share with our family. You have experienced death many times in your 10 years of living with us. As you may recall, with each passing of our elders there is a moment of peace that follows in the presence of the true love and appreciation for those left living on earth.
I remember the moments following your birth so clearly. I remember your mother's strength in the face of life's arrival. With a head full of hair, you looked so grown up already. You were breathing for the first time and it was amazing! I'm so grateful for you.
Yes, and so death is a part of life. And it is our choice to accpet this truth and live fully in every moment. It may sound strange to you now, but we must welcome death into our lives. Let it not burden your mind with thoughts of dread, despair or self-pity. May these moments instead grow and enrich your life—your very precious life.
With that said, the death of those we love define us and shape how we prepare for our own passing. It need not haunt you, but keep you on your toes— aware of the fragility of existence and the value of every morning and have us wake up ready to live life to the fullest.
Imagine what living life to fullest is like for you — go ahead — imagine it. *grin* This is the dream god has placed in your heart. Pursuing this dream will require great strength and spiritual practice. It will require you to gain control over your mind.
Do you remember our last walk in the woods? You were so tired from having hiked nearly 3 miles on the challenging mountain terrain. And your mind was SO burdened by the thought of how tired you were. You wanted to stop, but you kept on going. Had you allowed that thought to control you, you might have never made it up that mountain. But you did. You made it because you took control of your thoughts and faced this great challenge like a true warrior.
When my grandmother, your great-grandmother, Meem died, I learned that living in fear or self-pity is to live trapped by harmful emotions. Her passing gave me the insight I needed to be free from fear. I believe in you, William. Let no one call you a coward, for I have witnessed your bravery. And still do.
The next time you find yourself sad or angry, take a breath my dear and observe your thoughts from a distance. Its your choice to master your mind, to tame the wild animal of emotions that would have you sitting still at the bottom of the mountain. May your mind be flexible yet strong, stable and calm. Be peace and peace will surround you. All that and a bag of chips, my dear! (preferably, raw leafy green kale chips *grin*)
My dear William, I love you so much. As you find your inner peace, you will learn how to share this with others,especially the ones you love the most—our family. I promise to practice peace with you. Together we will find the strength to be the brave ones god has called us to become.
So, how do we do this? First step: create a sacred space, like a quiet playroom of your own, where you can go and seek out the calm and listen carefully to the thoughts that come in and out of your mind. Let them be like clouds passing through you. Sometimes I like to sit by a creek to meditate or pray. That's why I go to the woods so much *grin*.
Wise men and wise women say that if we learn to embrace the truth of death with strength and peace of mind, we will gain great power, even super-powers. Nothing can then stop you or break your good spirit. Rejoice! You are alive and have much to do today! As I have learned through much trial and error, more important than what you do each day is who you BE as you go about the doing. And it's your choice to BE a man who lives in fear or a man who lives in freedom. It takes courage to live in freedom.
Courage is not being without fear. Courage is taking action in spite of fear. Honestly, I still get scared all the time. But I don't let it stop me. You too can free yourself from unhappiness or fear and climb any mountain you choose. When you train your mind and achieve this power, you will change the world and take one step closer to ending all suffering.
Always, the spiritual work you do and the good man you BE will benefit others.
William, there is a hidden treasure within you. Seek it with diligence and choose your bliss!
May you have a life free from the burden of suffering, choosing joy throughout these precious moments we have together.
I love you dearly,
ps. surround yourself with good people and have fun, darlin'!! *grin*