They met at a seven-year meditation/philosophy course, which required participants to travel to India each year for the 1st week in April for instruction. It was taught by H E Tai Situ Rinpoche one of the great Meditation Masters.
The seating was cushioning on the floor, he sat in front of her. He was from Germany with limited English and she was from New Zealand (NZ) with limited German but they were able to communicate. They formed a group with the Spanish man that sat next to him and the Taiwanese woman that sat next to her. The group exchanged email addresses and from time to time corresponded. When in India they would all have breakfast together.
After year three of the course, he wrote to say he had to drop out of the course as his 88-year-old mother was sick and he needed to care for her. He wrote about his newly acquired knowledge in gynaecology, breast cancer, podiatry, and dentistry gained from having accompanied his mother to all of her appointments.
She wrote back and gave him some moral support. She also sent a gift from the NZ sheep, woollen socks for both his mother and him.
A few weeks later he wrote to her worried about his mother.
“Yesterday the general practitioner came to see my mum. My mother vomits twice in the past few days. The doc said: My mother has stomach and mucous membrane infections.
She takes drugs. My mother´s eyes shine when she gets help.
MY LARGEST PROBLEM IS: I cannot emotionally let go of my mother. My mum is 89 years old.”
She replied to him:
My dear friend,
Visualise me sitting with you and holding your hand as I say these words to you.
It is a natural feeling to want to hold onto your mother and not let her go. I know that feeling, but we have no choice but to let them go when the time comes.
Maybe she is also tired of being sick and her body does not function so well. Your love for her is strong and her love for you is also very strong but if you think about dharma then it can really help you and give you the strength to face what must come. Death is coming not just for your mum, it comes for me for you, and every human being. Death is part of life, she has an opportunity at death to maybe become enlightened. I am sure you would not deny your mother that opportunity.
There are many things you can do to help her at this time. You can do Chenrezig prayers or chant the Om Mani Padme Hung mantra when you are with her or offer butter lamps. This is good for your darling mum and for you.
Please say all the things you want to say to her, tell her you love her so that when she dies then you will have no regrets. You will have said all the important things to her. You can see her health is getting worse but I am sure she worries about you because you are her only child.
Tell her that you will be okay because you will. I will always be here for you and be your friend and comfort you even though I am far away. We met through the dharma and we can continue to meet through dharma. You will not be alone.
You are fortunate to repay the kindness that your mother has shown you. If you are strong enough to learn about gynaecology, breast cancer, dentistry, and podiatry problems you can handle anything.
Take care of each other.
Thank you very much for your email. Your words are of great help to us.
I translated your email. On Saturday I read your email to my mum. There were many tears and touches. We became aware of the finality of death. On Sunday I asked my mum: Would you like to hear the email again? My mum answered: Yes. Today I will read your email again. Now I sleep on the floor of my mother´s one-room apartment. I do not want my mother to die alone. I hope that parting will be a little more bearable for both of us.
A week later he emailed to say his mother had passed away peacefully.