I find my father dead at his house, 17 miles away, in June of 2013. As expected.
Both of my parents were pack rats and my mother was an artist and the daughter, so she had my grandparents papers and letters and the tablecloths and napkins hand stitched by ancestors. Not one, not two, but a four by four foot box layered with hundreds...
My father had stopped washing clothes and bought them, the dirty ones piled in two four foot stacks by the dusty washer. Their waterbed had a hole and was a frightening waterbed soup of fabric and scummy water and blankets and I have no idea how long he had been sleeping on the couch.
It takes me ten days to find his will. I had asked, but I misinterpret his answer and look in the wrong room. I go out to his house after work and cry and look for things and try to decide where to start. I finally find it by accident.
It is from 1979. Everyone in it is dead except me. It is out of date. I sit and cry, sure that no matter which of two ways it is interpreted, I will be sued. I am correct in that.
I can't fall asleep. I am still working, running my clinic. I should take time off, but it doesn't occur to me until I get sick again a year later. I lie in bed grieving, confused, wondering what my father wanted, wondering what is the right thing to do.
I read Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn. I am reading it for work, I tell myself. He has studied mindfulness meditation for over 30 years and his classes reduce chronic pain by 50%. Opiates average a 30% reduction. His classes are better than drugs.
My edition comes with a CD, of sample classes. I listen to it many nights. The part I listen to most often is the body scan. It is not a tighten and relax scan. It is a "put your attention in your left toes and keep it there." He speaks slowly. With pauses. In a gentle warm monotone. "Now move your attention to your left midfoot." Pause. My mind wanders.
At the start of the body scan he says, "You may lie down. Lie down somewhere warm. If you lie on a bed, remember, this body scan is to fall more awake. Do not fall asleep."
....and I think, you cannot tell me what to do....you can't see me....you don't know me....and fall fall fall asleep, deeply asleep, satisfied that authority cannot hold me and my mind is still free....