Thursday, February 9, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I feel cleaned, empty, soft-lonely-grateful-content-quiet. I have one more thing to send to you, as we breathe our sadness, and turn our attention back out to our own incarnations, allowing Nancy's to start to fade from our presence. Perhaps tomorrow.O Compassionate Ones,Abiding in all directions,Endowed with the great compassion,Endowed with love, affording protection to sentient beings,Consent through the power of your great compassion to come forth;Consent to accept these offerings concretely laid out and mentally created.O Compassionate Ones,You who possess the wisdom of understanding,The love of compassion,The power of doing divine deeds and of protecting in incomprehensible measure;Nancy is passing from this world to the next.She is taking a great leap.The light of this world has faded for her.She has entered solitude with her karmic forces.She has gone into a vast silence.She is borne away by the great ocean of birth and deathO Compassionate Ones,Protect Nancy, who is defenselessBe to her like a mother and a father.O Compassionate Ones,Let not the force of your compassion be weakBut aid her.Forget not your ancient vows…
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I am sorry to pass on to you an odd counterpoint to Nancy's journey, as we nearly reach the end. Her father, Richard Jones, passed away early this morning at the age of 89.
Dick was ready to go, in a lot of discomfort the last couple of years, and grieving the loss of his wife a year ago, and Nancy, of course. He was a US Army Air Corps pilot in the Flying Tigers in WW II, flew P-40's, P-51's, then all the early jet aircraft as a test pilot. His name is in some history books, his stories were amazing, he was a fierce, tidy, disciplined man. He was a full colonel when he retired, then had another full career teaching, and working for CAL-OSHA.
I remember him talking about practicing delivery of big nuclear weapons in the early '50's using F-86 Sabre fighter jets, about flying a B-26, a P-61, all kinds of amazing planes, about building ICBM silos in the California and Arizona desert, about the time a hot pilot landed too close behind him and chopped his P-51 fighter in half, detonating all the fuel and munitions and burning the magnesium bits in a fireworks display that lasted for an hour. About shooting up Japanese troop trains in China in 1943, about parachuting out of a burning P-40 and getting back to the base with a lot of underground help, just in time to keep his stuff from getting given away. The man was damn lucky he was never killed in action, and saw more adventure in his life than anyone else I know.
Dick, we all love you, and Nancy loved you. May the Tara prayer hold you in your transition to the light.
So sad that he had to see his daughter pass away first. But it's also true that Nancy never lost her father. The light and the dark are ever in balance. See you tomorrow.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
- Anything concerning the design or appearance of any element of the house, Nancy needed to be involved.
- Anything involving the functionality or energy-efficiency of the house, I needed to be involved.
- We each had complete veto power.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
As Doug Adams said, the Answer to the Question About Life, The Universe And Everything Is...Is....42. And here we are, six weeks after she is gone. On one level, nothing is happening, and on another, much.
Metaphysically, I believe Nancy has moved on. I've not felt her in ten days, so the NancyJonesUpdate journey is becoming quiet. I finally have nothing to report about Nancy.
Oh, ouch, I just get to finally feel my complete loss. I've been gifted with ongoing contact with her spirit, easing my transition into my new life, but now she's gone, gone. I pray she's found bliss.
The outer dream of my life mirrors this loss. The entire heating system for the house we built failed yesterday. A Munchkin boiler provides all heating and hot water for our energy-efficient home. Yes this is funny -- was Nancy a Munchkin boiler? And — get this, mystery scholars — the ignitor failed. I awoke to a cold home yesterday, and all is repaired now. But it's still amusing. Especially because the pressure-relief valve on the system also needed replacement too :-)
If Nancy was anything, she was an ignitor. All the stories I hear, all the impact she had on Pathways workshop participants, co-workers, family, and me...all were related to her ability to bring fire, to pop something, to light something. When it came to pressure relief, well, many of us delighted in how much fun she was with a few tablespoons or glasses of wine she had consumed. I'm seeing her life in a somewhat different way today, the pattern of high internal pressure, flipping to pressure relief.
No wonder we were together. I don't polarize like that, I'm pretty steady, a good balancing force for her. Although I must share with you, I found an "archetype test" that she did a few years ago, put myself through the same set of test questions, and found that we are far more alike than different. We both key into pure energies, and have a lot of range, similar range, Warrior, Magician, Lover. Perhaps I've found the ultimate test system for finding our ideal partner, our soul mate. Hmm.
I ran into one of my neighbors and friends tonight. He mentioned how he walks by our house, and no longer sees Nancy out watering the yard in that meticulous way she did. Out come my tears. It's the little things that reconnect us all to our grief. It's all still here, moving us, and moving through us. Let her emails, her notes, your memories of her penetrate you...for our rainbow bridge to her is fading. Soon it will be gone. See you next week, at the memorial.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
We were at the ropes course - it was the start of the "Stand & Deliver Round That Shall Not Be Named". We were in southern San Francisco; and it was a very brisk day. It was a new group so we were all still getting to know one another. It was a day full of thick observation and introspection as we mentored our participants towards self revelation, discovery and teamwork. And...I had to pee. As I mentioned, it was a brisk day, Nancy and I were standing so close to each other that we were actually overlapping. We were huddled together as the following conversation occurred.
Heather: Man, I have to pee!
Nancy looks all the way around their surroundings and opens her hand as if to showcase that nearly the entire universe is readily available, and proceeds in a matter of fact, yet simultaneously slightly befuddled, tone.
Nancy: Well go. There are a thousand trees to choose from.
Heather looks around skeptically, and gives a slight grimace of doubt.
Heather: I don't know...
Nancy rifles through her jacket pockets and hands over a tissue that looks as though it had already been used four...possibly five...times already.
Nancy: Here (hands over the tissue).
Heather (takes it politely, still looks around): I don't know, there's people around. Maybe I can hold it.
Nancy (at this point somewhat angrily): Heather, what are you afraid they're going to see?!
Heather: Um, my big fat white ass!
Even re-reading it I'm not sure if it was actually that funny, all I can say is that Nancy and I laughed hysterically for at least a half an hour. We were both in tears, and then we still continued to laugh occasionally throughout the rest of the day. We had to stop looking at each other because every time we did the laughing would continue. It still cracks me up every time I think of it. I'll always have that memory and it will always cheer me up. I am grateful.
I'm also grateful that with Nancy as my mentor, I did eventually pee, in public, with questionable tissue - laughing the entire time - and not caring at that point who saw what.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
- the correct name of the church is Sei Ko Kai Christ Church
One of my friends tells me that this is a gathering place for Japanese who spent time in our internment camps during World War II, and that they have a wonderful community.
- Please plan to arrive at 6:45pm. The service will begin promptly at 7:00pm.
- Please let me know by Friday if you plan to attend. We are trying to get an idea of how many to expect.
- The service should not last more than an hour.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
My friend Val Syzmanski has confirmed the location for Nancy's memorial service. It will be held on February 8th, at 7pm, at Skeikokai Christ Church, 2140 Pierce Street, San Francisco. Her organization, bamboointhewind.org, uses this location for their zen buddhist meditation and meeting space, and it sounds like it will be spacious and delightful. I look forward to seeing you there. You can see a map at http://g.co/maps/uvmdf.
Today is our 28th day of mourning for Nancy, the fourth of seven weeks, more than halfway through. The shock of her death is wearing off, finally, and I'm now getting hit by the full force of her loss. I have depressed days, and know that I just need to open and let my feelings flow through me. When I do, the depression fades...and my feelings of sadness and tragedy can be overwhelming. I found her hair last weekend, the hair we removed last February when she was getting chemotherapy for leukemia...and I just lost it completely for a while. Sometimes, it's really hard to get anything done. But most of the time, I'm able to focus.
I'm getting stuff handled, cleaning out drawers, throwing away things, consolidating shoes and clothes, starting to tackle paperwork. One thing at a time, so I don't get overwhelmed. I have a roommate possibility, and I'll have to get to work on clearing the second floor of the house, one garage, and getting some finish details in the house taken care of. My list seems endless, but I'm just doing one thing at a time, and there is steady progress.
I've been learning more about the 49 days of mourning, and the theology from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. There is a remarkable Viking/Penguin edition of this book, with an introduction by HH The Dalai Lama, that is frankly blowing my mind. The introduction alone is a dense and very informative introduction to buddhist practice.
A friend suggested that I keep open to my intuitions about Nancy's passage, and indeed I am experiencing some strange feelings when I reach out to her that don't seem to be mine. Yesterday morning I felt very agitated, and had to go off for a few minutes at work to practice a tonglen meditation to transform fear into the heart-wisdom and love of Tara. It seemed to help. And I also have a strong sense that others are helping as well. She does feel more ethereal to me, the last time we connected. Perhaps I'm feeling more of my loss because indeed she is farther and farther away.
More stories! Send me your stories, and let me know if I can share them on this list!
Thursday, January 12, 2012
January 2, 1952 – December 22, 2011
I first met Nancy sometime in 1980, when she joined Walker Associates Inc in Los Angeles as an interior designer. I had been employed there as a graphic designer for six months or less when she arrived. She became my "girl crush" before she became my friend. (As defined by various internet sources, this is an attraction to qualities one envies or admires in another woman…)
Nancy was physically petite like me, and only one year older. Yet, she carried about her an authority and maturity beyond her years. She expected her opinions and performance to be valued, and clearly didn't appreciate it when she felt she was being slighted or ignored. Even when she was riled up, her righteous indignation was somehow endearing.
Whereas I would spend my first minutes at the office each day putting on my makeup, filing down my bitten nails, and trying to make my hair conform to any kind of shape, it seemed to me that Nancy always arrived perfectly put together. Her hair was coiffed in a neat poodle cut, and her polished nails and shoes often coordinated with her clothing. She dressed in a manner both professional and boldly feminine. Lots of color. Nancy wasn't the only woman at WAI to raise the appearance bar for me. I learned, and stepped up my game, but never quite achieved making it look effortless, like Nancy did. There was a palpable amount of shoe envy going on at WAI amongst those of us with the XX chromosomes. In one of the two photos I recently posted, it is possible that Nancy is casting her eyes downward in a moment of reflection. Equally plausible to me, is that she is eyeing and complimenting (coveting) Clara Igonda's shoes.
One Thanksgiving weekend in New York City, I survived a killer cold, bundled up in Nancy's fuzzy, 3/4 length coat, which she had loaned me when my own (favorite) coat was stolen from my car at work.
As opinionated as Nancy was about her work life, she extended her own personal brand of unconditional warmth and acceptance towards me as a friend. Throughout the years, as we'd lose track of one another, then reconnect, I recall receiving a bit of loving advice from Nancy here and there, but never one ounce of comparison or judgment. A favor I returned, I like to think. It was the quality of the time we spent together, rather than the quantity. She had such a capacity, that I feel certain many of Nancy's friends have felt similarly nurtured by her. The thing I enjoy recalling the most about Nancy in our days of yore, was her voice and laughter—and this unique talent she had. She could chuckle and speak whole sentences at the same time.
My favorite story about Nancy:
The project managers at Walker Associates were encouraged to recognize and reward their teams (which typically consisted of the manager, one designer and two draftsmen) for their work. One Monday, this story circulated: Nancy's project manager had taken his team out for a meal and a late afternoon sail in a rented sailboat/dinghy from Marina Del Rey. After too much fine drink and food, the manager became incapacitated, unable to pilot the boat. Nancy took command of the tiller and sail and sailed the boat, the ailing manager, and two extremely nervous draftsmen safely back into the harbor just as dusk closed in. When pressed, Nancy graciously soft-pedaled her manager's impairment but confirmed the other facts. It intrigued me to learn yet another facet of Nancy. Underneath her toy poodle-miniature pinscher exterior, was a less domestic sort of animal altogether. She, of the fire engine-red fingernails and stiletto heels, had grown up rowing summer provisions across a lake to the family cabin, and had sailed a sailboat or two. I now had an expanded picture of her, growing up a sometimes-outdoorsy girl, and daughter of a career military man, who could perform under pressure as required.
Two years ago, I felt inspired to google Nancy and pick up the phone. A somewhat courageous act when a half-dozen or more years had elapsed. That impulse allowed me the opportunity to fill in more color between the lines… e.g., when Nancy spontaneously shared her high school yearbooks and memories with me. I was so not surprised to learn she had excelled at just about everything one can excel at in high school, including popularity and leadership. But didn't peak there. I also got to experience the peaceful elegance of the home which Nancy and Tom built together, which reflects so much of Nancy's taste and style. As she said, after years of creating beautiful spaces for others, she was at last able to create one for herself.
Nancy and I had lunch together at the end of September 2011, the week before my high school reunion in Los Angeles. We spoke of our shared days at Walker Associates so long ago, and tossed around Nancy's idea for a little pilgrimage we could make to LA, together. Nancy was very thin, and her graft-host reaction presented itself as a first degree burn all over her skin. Yet, her personality and spirit seemed so undaunted by what she'd already undergone this past year, 'twas as though it was ordained that she would survive. I couldn't imagine otherwise.
I will always be grateful that we each took time out for a two-hour lunch. My sole regret: that my daughter Kit never got to re-meet Nancy, as a young adult. Nancy's parting words to me were, I want to hear all about your reunion—and tell your daughter I want to see her when she's home at Christmas. I know they would've hit it off famously and found much to talk about.
At the end, I came to know that Nancy had the heart of a tigress. In my minds eye, she is still/ever rowing (deftly) across the lake to her family cabin, laughing her inimitable Nancy laugh, wearing a red windbreaker, with the wind ruffling her wavy hair. Although it was a tough ride, I thank her husband, Tom, for allowing her friends and family to participate in her final days on this earth through his email updates. To paraphrase an old proverb/adage: friendship doubles our joy, and divides our grief in half.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Tara prayer has been having a remarkable impact. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that it's about me as much as about Nancy, and that the intention created by the prayer is for us to release each other.
Here is the prayer again. Notice how it is all about transformation into a form that must be released. It's hard for me to cling to brilliant spheres of light!
From Tara's heart, rainbow light shines forth throughout the six realms and the bardo,
Enveloping the deceased one, Nancy Jones, wherever she is,
Purifying her karma, and infusing her with Tara's radiant blessing.
Her form becomes brilliant spheres of light, and dissolve into Tara's heart-mind,
A realm beyond the cycles of suffering, a realm of absolute purity and bliss.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
the practice of Sukhavati is connected to Amitabha Buddha and goes well, i think, with your daily Tara practice...there is a short (ten minutes) tonglen practice (sending and taking) where i will practice focusing on taking in whatever nancy might be experiencing in terms of attachment to this life, fear, or any sense of not being able to let go and transition....then sending her a sense of openness, letting go, and confidence to move forward. then i will extend this tonglen practice to include all of nancy's family, friends, communities with the intention of supporting their letting go of nancy.
The image on the right I took on Thanksgiving day and as I looked though the lens to take the picture my thoughts and feelings were of Nancy. The image on the left is the image I had selected for Nancy as part of my Mystery School gift. I have placed it adjacent to the recent photo image as I sense the recent photo on the right as a continuum of the earlier image. I have not tried to analyze or place context to the photo, other than to say while at the surface a stillness seems to appear on both sides of the log, below the surface, there is a very powerful flow that continues.