For many weeks I had visited her at the hospice. The prognosis was bleak. All treatments had failed to arrest the cancer. Then the doctors predicted she only had a few weeks left.
For those last few weeks I visited every day. It was a harrowing experience for me. How much more so for her? Every day we talked. The conversations oscillated between regret and fear - tales of many opportunities missed, and a deep, deep dread of the unknown that was soon to be faced.
The fear made her shake and seemed to fill the room, making the atmosphere thick, almost suffocating. Perhaps it sounds callous to say it, but I was always glad to get out of there on those fear days. Leaving the hospice was like a huge weight being lifted. But something of it remained with me, making getting on with every day life difficult.
Two days before her death, things suddenly changed. The fear disappeared. The stories about the past ceased. There was an atmosphere of great peace and she showed a youthful radiance that had not been present for many years, even before her illness.
I asked her what had happened, and will never forget her answer.
"I donít know!" she almost shouted with glee.
"You donít know what?"
"I donít know anything!" she explained further.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Ha ha!" She was giggling all the way through, as if telling a joke and unable to stop thinking of the punchline. "I donít know! I have never known! Donít you see?"
"No, Iím sorry, I donít see," I confessed.
"For the last few weeks, all the terror, because I did not know what is going to come next, what happens after this. Then suddenly, oh! Of course! So simple."
"What is so simple?"
"I have never known! Not really. I have never known what was coming next. Of course we kid ourselves we know. We kid ourselves we are making plans and controlling life, and for what? Just to come to this donít know! But all that remembering, all that regret and then suddenly it became obvious. I have never known what is coming next. So how is this any different? Why should I be scared now when I was not scared before? I didnít know. I donít know. Ha ha! Thatís life! And I guess thatís death too! I love you so much."
I held her hand silently as the tears ran down both our faces.
"All you can do now is to relax into this no-thingness...fall into this silence between the words...watch this gap between the outgoing and incoming breath. And treasure each empty moment of the experience. Something sacred is about to be born." Osho
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