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  • 1.
    My niece Katharina was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was not even two years old.

    Hamburg has a great hospital for children with cancer. Little Katharina went through all the treatments and chemotherapy. Children under five can take relatively more chemo than older human - beings and are often cured of Leukemia. Katharina`s cancer went into remission, after 5 symptomfree years she was considered cured.

    That was the summer when I visited Germany and one morning Katharina and I folded clothes fresh from the dryer and we talked like aunt and niece. As I live so far away this was our first aunt - niece - talk like that. I fell a bit in love with this ashblond girl with the whitest skin I had ever seen.

    In April the following year the catastrophe in Chernobyl took place. In May, they reported, the wave of radioactivity had reached Germany.

    Do not let your children play outside and touch the grass so much, they advised in the media, do not eat mushrooms for another few thousand years..... In May! After the long grey winter in northern Europe!

    In early June Katharina told her mom at breakfast, " You know, I would rather be airborne!"

    My sister froze. Katharina knew.

    Little as she was she said she did not want any more chemotherapy and her parents and doctors accepted.

    In early September she went to her first day in school, which had been much anticipated. She went for a week and then fell sick. Later that month she died.

    I am sure the Chernobyl radioactivity killed her. You cannot prove this for an individual, but years later statistics show it: Ten years after Chernobyl there were 10 thousand more children with Leukemia than normal just in Poland.

    I have visited two friends, who are dying. One is a 89 year old woman, who was strong until she suffered a massive stroke last Friday. She is in a kind of coma since then, breathing heavily, her heart speeding away. The other one is a man, younger than I, who is in the very last stage of lung cancer. Metastasis have invaded the rest of his body. Every time I go and see him, he weighs, moves, understands and speaks less. Yesterday he basically just slept. He is on morphine.

    As far as I can tell none of the two seems to suffer terribly and yet, watching them I realize what a huge piece of work dying seems to be, waiting for us at the end of our time.

    If I understand it right, on August 29th there was a huge sun - explosion. There are explosions on the surface of the sun all the time, for some still unknown reason every 11 years these are bigger. We are hitting the 11 year high in sun - explosions. These explosions cannot be predicted. Once they have occurred they need about 3 days to reach us.

    The last one was photographed by a NASA - satellite.

    The particles thrown into the surrounding space by the sun during these events are called the Solar Wind. It is radiation. The electromagnetic shield around Earth protects us from most of this radiation. We see it as Aurea Borealis.

    A heavy sun storm like this could interrupt all our electric connections and lead to a mayor cultural disaster. It happened about 150 years ago, but was not desastrous, because the only electric device it destroyed for a while was the telegraph, otherwise people did not at all depend on electricity.

    The sun - storm from the last 29th of August hit us on September 3rd. Mexican newspapers advised their readers to not go out a lot as the sun´s radiation was extremely high.

    The storm did not hit Earth directly. It could have. If it had, 90 % of all life down here would have been extinguished in no time.

    I was shocked to realize anew that the sun, the star that gives us life, in reality has zero consideration for us. Few media articles picked up on this. It completely passed us by. We prefer to keep worrying about our sick pet, about if our neighbor was friendly yesterday or not, about our looks or social importance in this most fragile of all worlds.....

    "Men come and they go and they trot and they dance, and never a word about death. All well and good. Yet when death does come—to them, their wives, their children, their friends—catching them unawares and unprepared, then what storms of passion overwhelm them, what cries, what fury, what despair! . . .

    To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. . . . We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.

    To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave." MONTAIGNE

    A friend writes me as a comment: " It is always a good day to die.....even when you haven't made your bed or done the laundry..."

    I ask him," Do you really live that way? Can you? I just chat away about it, but emotionally I am so far from that place!"

    He answers," Of course, I would prefer to have made my bed, done the laundry and left a really beautiful heart expanding note on my pillow...."

    Erich Fromm said that each crisis we face in life is just like a contraction of the womb, when it first pressed us out into the light and darkness of this world. Each contraction - crisis wants us to be born more fully. The goal of life is to have us each be born completely and the tragedy of life is that most of us are not completely born before we have to die.

    Your story, Kate, reminded me of this. Yesterday my second granddaughter was born, my fourth grandchild, just the way you describe it so beautifully.

    What a mystery this is: being born and having to die....

    Gitte D. died on December 2nd after many years with ovarian cancer. She was 56 years old, five years younger than I am. She died in Oslo, but lived most of her life in Mexico.

    Gitte came to San Cristóbal shortly after I had arrived in 1977 and took up a very bad relationship with a man, who was my husband´s best friend at the time. That was a mentally sick man, who hated women. The night I found this out about him I had to come to Gitte´s rescue. After that we never got very close again. I imagine that she - this independent and strong woman otherwise - could not stand that I had seen her in such a weak moment and I understand that.

    Her death still shakes me, because she was part of my history.

    I sat yesterday having breakfast with one of the gorgeous paintings by my friend Gayle in front of me. When Gayle started having exhibitions in Oaxaca, Gitte was - besides Francisco Toledo - one of the famous artists there. Gayle always complained about Gitte not being too friendly.

    Then Gayle died, she also was 56 years old when she died. Now Gitte is dead.

    All the stupid rubbish we worry about during our short lives: if so and so loves me or not, greets me as she should, looks down upon me or admires me...... It is as if relentlessly we scream "MEMEMEME!!!!!!" inside our skulls and ask ourselves to complete exhaustion: Am I worthwhile?

    And we are never ever satisfied with even the kindest of answers to this question of all questions for very long.

    I do this and Gayle did and probably most of us do and it continually separates us from each other.

    We had a memorial for Gitte. That was good. I admire her, cherish her art and life. I asked her forgiveness for my fear to get closer to her and I feel that it was given.

    "Everything that takes form in the universe - be it a galaxy, a star, a tree, a mosquito or you and me - has a wave of existence: it appears, exists and vanishes, living beings are born, live and eventually die....°

    I say this often during guided meditations, when we try to observe impermanence watching sounds appear and disappear, mostly so very quickly.

    I came upon statistics. German statistics. Germany has a shrinking population, but I can say that more or less its population has been around 80 million people since I was born. East and West Germany were two countries then, but to make things easier, let us throw them into one German statistics pot.

    A German woman has a life expectancy of 78 years and some months, let us make that 80 years.

    Each year a little bit less than 1 million people die in Germany. I round that up to 1 million.

    While I was reading these numbers and rounding them up or down it suddenly hit me that from the 80 million Germans , who lived when I was born 61 years ago, 61 million have died. No war, no big catastrophes, just the usual flow of life.

    19 million of my compatriots and contemporaries are still existent - as I am - floating each and everyone of us on our wave of existence....

    I suddenly understand WHERE I am at, what point and moment of my own wave I am hitting - probably.

    I think and think and think about DEATH, and cannot crack that nut. The hardest for me is that I have to do it alone. That is true for life also. I am afraid NOTHING will happen after dying.

    I am afraid of Emptiness in life, every day. I say to myself: I will just sit and look at it and of course it just FEELS empty but in reality there always is something. I know it has to do with Ego.

    I KNOW all that wise stuff, but then my 50 million cells vibrate in a different way.... oh, boy really: I do not know shit.

    Snowflake in my hand
    if I was dead
    it would stay

    Asahi, 1/15/2010
    Art by Kiki

    More Paintings
    My Blog
    Mi blog
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