She was on her deathbed, she looked skinny, weak and not much older than she’s now. I was standing right next to her and she was dying. I felt this unbearable sadness and started crying and couldn’t stop. I had to open my eyes and stop my meditation, I got up and went for a walk outside. This was too much.
A few years ago I heard an interview that was about gratitude morning routines. One of the guys said, “Every morning I close my eyes and visualize that my family is dead, I really see it and feel it. I imagine what life is like without them. I do that for a few moments, then I open my eyes and see that they’re still here, and after that, I feel a great sense of gratitude, and I never take them for granted.”
Wow, I thought, what an intense gratitude morning routine. I remember trying it once but it felt too intense and too negative, I didn’t even finish the visualization and didn’t try it again, it was not for me. I didn’t think about that visualization again for years.
But at the last silent meditation retreat I attended, it was day 8 (out of 10) I think, and during the evening meditation this image suddenly came to my mind, it felt real, like I was there. I saw my wife dying in front of my eyes. I tried to avoid that image and think of something else, to focus on my breath instead, but the image came back, even stronger. So there I was, meditating, watching my wife die, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
During the time my wife and I have been together, sometimes things have gotten difficult, we’ve had disagreements, maybe we’ve got mad at each other, and I’ve taken her for granted. Sometimes I wondered if I would be better off alone again. But this experience has made everything crystal clear to me: I love her, I wouldn’t be better off without her, and I can’t take her for granted for a single day.
It was a very painful experience, one that still makes me cry when I think about it, but I’m glad I had it. It was just what I needed to remind me of what is truly valuable in my life. I’m sorry for taking you for granted, if I ever do again, I know what to do.