I Will Remember For You


area of refuge

area of refuge

It’s OK that you do not remember what happened. I understand. I’ll remember for you, now. Letting the mind relax, letting it be free of unnecessary effort will help it relax, and to slowly heal. The doctors and nurses and other hospital staff are very skilled in their caring for you in this neuroscience center.

I understand that it is uncomfortable to have the tube in your nose. And that your throat feels tight. That tube is bringing food and medicine down into your stomach because you are not able to swallow yet. Perhaps soon, but not yet. If you try to swallow before the mouth and throat are working you could choke. I understand that the tube makes your poor, dry throat even sorer. So many high-tech machines in this new facility, and not one of them measuring how dry and sore your throat is.

modern vitals monitors

modern vitals monitors

Other patients in this neuroscience section of the hospital also suffered a cerebral vascular accident, CVA. They too are being treated medically and have the hopes and prayers of loved ones to regain the use of their arms, legs, to again be able to chew and swallow, and to remember. They too filled out this advance directive form to indicate a preference on how aggressively to be resuscitated and kept alive mechanically.



Do you still remember how we would go out to lunch, from time to time at different restaurants? Do you remember when I was young and you attended my football games? Do you remember when I was a little baby, small and premature, needing extra special care? I understand that right now you don’t remember raising me and your other children. Perhaps all memories of my infancy are gone, for now.

I’ll let you rest now, dear mother. The nurse has come with the bed pan and will wash you. Those medicines will ease your pain and make it easier to sleep. After a lifetime of thinking and worrying, now is the right time to relax. No place to go, nothing to do. There’s nothing to worry about. No cell phones to answer.

learning to walk, again

learning to walk, again

Breathing in calm, deep breaths. Breathing out, worries and stress. Taking refuge in this hospital bed. Cared for by bright, enthusiastic health professionals. Taking refuge in each conscious breath. Body and mind relaxed, at one in this special moment of still being alive on this earth.

new hospital aglow

new hospital aglow

When you deny the reality of life, you appreciate it less. Meditate on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances and rediscover the magic of life just as it is.

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Plum Village Chanting Book



26 thoughts on “I Will Remember For You

  1. mkesling63

    A little drastic but I agree. I live my life as if I do not have many years. Looking foward it seems like ages, looking back it was all a second.

  2. michaelwatsonvt

    These words are true words, well placed and deeply imagined. Thank you. I know these words; I also know the very human desire for wellness and connection. The world is a wilder place than we can know, or perhaps, imagine.

  3. Kelly Kuhn

    Beautiful. My dad died of a sudden heart attack at 51, so there was no time for processing in advance. My mom died at 64, after 18 months of dealing with cancer. I learned during that time with her how much beauty there can be in dying, how much we can learn about the experience of living. I am grateful for that, and grateful for your post to take me back to that precious time.

    Sending peace and light to you.

  4. goingoutwordsandinwords

    Every month after the reading the 5 Mindfulness Trainings our sangha reads the 5 Remembrances. I think they are so important to practice with. It is easy to forget how impermanent life is. It is easy to live our lives as though things, people, places, ourselves are permanent. Much suffering is cultivated from an unwillingness to let go. Thank you dear friend for sharing.

  5. Compassion

    Dying o dying
    Traveller to the light
    Bringer of birth
    Of life going forth

    Mother of smiles
    Mother of wit
    Holding and being held
    Breathing your final breaths

    And then
    The breaking of the shell
    Breathing breaths in the essence of who you are
    Not even needing oxygen
    As your consciousness and love flows to the river

    The ones who are touched by you
    Keep chanting your song

    Be well Betty
    Fare well on the great voyage that continues to happen
    And will give you joy, freedom of pain, old age and regrets
    As your boat follows the river of compassion
    Will you greet my loved ones there, thank you

  6. marga t.

    Such peace, kindness and beauty you’ve found in the oft forgotten corner that many rage, rage against. So gently inevitably lovingly you are there together from where you report, while each of us at various points of going into the night absorb your words. Tender, thank you!

  7. delightfullyslow

    Grüezi! Thank you for this kind reminder that every living thing is ephemeral! To take a moment to think of illnesses makes us appreciate more our health. To hold a thought about the certainty of our death one day is a good reminder to live fully and mindfully in the present moment. May God bring strength to your whole family! Tschüss! Amagi

  8. nicseventysix

    Dear David, ever since being on WordPress, I have hardly missed any of your blog Posts…. they are inspiring, comforting, they bring sunshine to the inside… Which is why I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award. To go accept it and learn about the Details, please go to:
    Namasté, Nic

    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you for being sharing your generous and kind nature with me, Nicole. This will add to my smile during this Deer Park staff time with Thay Wishing you a happy moment.

      1. nicseventysix

        Thank you, David. The peace and friendliness is shining all the way over the ocean towards my place – so thank you. This week, I can actually really use some peace and sunshine.
        Best wishes and a wonderful time at Deer Park.

  9. T. Chow

    Which hospital has the designated Area of Refuge? I would love to have this at all our facilities. Refuge in dharma, sangha, so important at times of illness.

  10. brucethomasw

    When I first read this I was moved beyond words, David. Today as I re-read the post, I also jotted down the list from the chanting book so I can refer to and remember it. A beautful and moving testament to your mother.

  11. ♡eM

    As I look at the dates you posted I Will Remember For You and then 9 Out of 10, I see that your mother is experiencing ill health without much escape recently, that she is suffering in her growing old, just as the poet teacher writes. My breath after reading this post is full of deep sighs and sadness, though I appreciate the wisdom of its words.


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