This is for me the beginning of a personal effort to recapture and understand the rhyme and reason, insight and lesson, and even beauty associated with what would appear to be a single event but which is really the culmination of a long series of synchronicities which lead up to, and even followed the event itself.
So, where to I begin? Well, those of you who have been following my blogs know of my wonderful friend Abdellah and our very special relationship, which included not only the lovely times we spent together in India, but even a 9 day visit I made to Paris to spend time with him in March of 2006. You can read a short account in the blog posts: http://mindfulnessjournal.blogspot.com/#114495322641587364
He will always be with me. Abdellah was a practicing Buddhist, and I just have to maneuver my way over a bunch of ants so as not to step on them, or watch a mosquito fly by without "clapping" it between my hands (I did that once instinctively when Abdellah was with me (!)...I have NEVER done it again!), and I think of him. [Abdellah's Mother is Muslim, and his step-father, who he grew up with, is Jewish (he has relatives in Israel), and one of his favorite foods is kneidlach, which I happily made for him with chicken soup one evening in McLeodganj. I also taught him how to make challah when I was in Paris with him. ] I just have to think of sausissons which he introduced me to at Kailwood in 2004, and I am in food heaven. The wonderful meals we shopped for, cooked and ate together, the movies we watched with his wonderful insights - he studied film in university in the States - the insights into Buddhist philosophy I received from him, but more important, in daily living...all these things keep him alive within me. Showing true loving-kindness, compassion and goodwill to all - not an easy thing to do ALL the time, was something that he could never NOT do. It was simply part of his essence. A living lesson in truly loving and respecting all living creatures, including himself. Like the wonderful plans he had drawn up for his new home in India, originally planned at the farmhouse in Kangra but later moved to an area near Palampur that his friend the Banker in Dharamsala was helping him with. A beautifully planned home, lavishly furnished with the best of everything including giant full wall size plasma TV screen.
AT KOKILA'S FARMHOUSE IN KANGRA WHERE HE WAS ORIGINALLY PLANNING TO BUILD A HOUSE
Well, let’s start with the fact that the last time I saw Abdellah was when he left Dharamsala to go back to Delhi and home to Paris, last year sometime in May 2007 if I am not mistaken. We had spent several really fun days together as usual, but his time in Dharamsala was short and we didn’t have the intense type of visit we usually do in India, where we spend extended periods of time together. So when I decided to go back to India in February 2008, we knew we would be meeting up for 2 weeks the beginning of March before he flew back to Paris after his several months studying Yoga in Mysore. He would come up to Rishikesh, and it would have been his first visit to Rishikesh and I knew he would love it, and was excited about seeing him.
I wrote to him from home to confirm the visit, but when he didn’t reply I didn’t think twice about it, as this was part of who he was and I never was disturbed by his lack of response to my e-mails. I always knew he read them all from the conversations we would have afterwards when we met. He just hated writing. He would prefer to call me by phone, which he did every couple of months, usually calling on a Friday night and saying “Shabbat Shalom” and throwing me off balance for a few seconds before I realized it was him calling.
I then wrote again when I arrived, and again as the beginning of March got closer, but still received no response. Someplace deep down inside I felt a twinge of worry, but ignored it, thinking that he perhaps had changed his plans, and would certainly be in touch with me when he was able to. And then the beginning of March came and went and no word. I even met our mutual friend Nikolai in Rishikesh and asked about Abdellah. He also said he had been strangely silent for a long time…even for him.
ABDELLAH AND NIKOLAI AT KAILWOOD IN MCLEODGANJ - 2004
But he also agreed with me that there was no reason for worry as this was typical behavior for him…Abdellah was my big lesson in true non-attachment, and I tended to agree with Nikolai, but something still didn’t seem right to me. But I brushed it aside. I would be home in Israel soon (it was a short trip to India) and if I hadn’t heard from him by then, would call him, or call a friend of his in Paris, which was the only other way I had of contacting him. And I continued with the short remaining time I had in Rishikesh, disappointed with not having seen Abdellah, but figuring there was a good reason for him not being there with me. I was after all, enjoying the company of Ben tremendously, as well as my healing meetings with Dudi, and was being kept quite busy and happy as well.
When I arrived home, still not having heard from Abdellah, I went to call his friend in Paris several times, but something always “got in the way” of the phone call. It just seemed to be something which would not happen. And then one day, I forwarded an e-mail to a group of friends, and when doing this, Abdellah’s name would always appear in the ”TO” window as he was alphabetically first on my list. The rest would be BCC , but anyone who opened the mail could see I had sent it to Abdellah. One of the recipients was Nikolai, and he sent me an e-mail simply saying “do you know-just in case- that Abdellah passed away about a month ago?”
Well, first of all it is not an easy thing to write and I certainly don’t envy Nikolai for being the one to write it to me, and second of all, what do you do when you read something like that? You go into shock and denial at first, I can tell you, and then you begin to feel guilty about not knowing about it sooner (but how could you?), and then you begin to think “Why didn’t I call sooner” (but what good would that have done), and then you burst out in tears, and then uncontrollable sobs, and you need to sit down, you need to speak to someone, you need to understand, you need to comprehend what you just read, and you cry and cry and cry until everything hurts and there are no more tears…and then you begin to cry again. And finally, you can breath once again and you begin to realize the impact of that simple sentence. You will never see Abdellah again…not in India, not in Paris, not anywhere. He will never call again and surprise you with a “Shabbat Shalom”. He will never come up behind you on the street , say “How YOU doin’ my friend” and when you turn around, see his amazing smile in front of you. You will never cook another meal together with him,
KITCHERI IN MY ROOM AT KAILWOOD - 2003
drink coffee with him, go shopping with him (shop until you drop style) again, never watch another movie with him again, never have him watch you dance folkdancing in the guesthouse room, never listen to music again with him, never just sit and talk with him or travel with him, or laugh with him, never go to Udeechi Huts in Naddi for fried chicken with him, never, never, and more never!
UDEECHI HUTS IN NADDI 2004
And then I began to do my best to put together a story of how this all happened. Being in touch with other mutual friends I was able to put together the sad story of his illness and surprising death. I will not detail it here, as there is no reason to do so, but will simply say that he contracted pneumonia in Mysore, and by the time he was flown home to Paris by his insurance company, quite some time later by the way, the virus had done too much damage and he was unable to recover. He was 47 years old. I further checked with them and his family, found out some precise dates of events etc., read stories many people had written about him, collected pictures etc.
I refuse to dwell on the “what if” questions etc., as there is simply no point in it, and prefer to put together for you a series of small synchronicities surrounding my arrival in India in February, my stay there, some unusual things that I realized through hindsight which show the interconnectiveness of our souls even after his death. I can truly tell you that I “see” Abdellah more now than I did when he was alive…he is with me very often. Watching me at folkdancing, attending a recent silent retreat with me, and during one of the meditations sat next to me, and in his typical fashion of never taking anything in life too seriously, said to me “Well, I see someone has finally got you to shut up!” (He very often commented that I talked too much!). He is actually sitting with me now and has already made a couple of comments about what I am writing. I wear a bracelet he once bought for me (by surprise…sending it to me by mail after I had already left India…after I had admired it in a jewelry store where we were shopping together for presents for his family members)…and I can feel him physically with me. His presence is powerful and loving and gentle and brings me great happiness…whenever I am feeling down, he comes around and brings a big smile to my face. I can truly say that I do not miss him , as I very rarely saw him anyway. When I return to India in a couple of months, I’m sure it will be difficult, but I am also sure that he will be there with me as well, just as he is now.
So now, just a small list of those things discovered in retrospect, bringing things more into focus and understanding.
I arrived in India actually quite ill, having fallen sick at home several days prior to my flight. Upon my arrival in Rishikesh, I actually began running a very high fever, which is very unusual for me, I rarely, if ever, have even a low fever when I am ill. After two days the guesthouse people took me to a doctor as they were quite worried about my condition, and he said there is extremely serious congestion in my lungs and he suspects pneumonia. He was an ayurveda doctor and gave me certain herbal medicines to take, but also recommended 3 days of antibiotics due to the extreme severity of my condition. I was quite surprised as I don’t usually get this ill. This was around the 14th of February. Later on, checking back on my blog, I realized that the first day I felt well enough to leave my room, or the small area near it in the guesthouse, was on February 22nd. This was the first day when, all of a sudden, all of the symptoms I had been feeling, completely disappeared, as if I had never been sick.
A couple of days after that, I met Ben and one of the first things he brought me to read was a booklet called “Do Not Grieve” which he had picked up at a local ashram in town. At the time, I simply read it and found many interesting ideas regarding life in general, and graceful acceptance of all that happens etc., without ever thinking that I would actually need it for true grieving. But there is was…in my room….
another thing which happened to me and is also documented in a blog post is a feeling of sudden and deep sadness for no reason which overcame me, and brought me to tears which could not be stopped. I had to leave the company of friends and run up to my room. It lasted for a few days and only when I did a full energy cleansing of my room did I begin to feel better and start sleeping again at night. I tried finding a reason for the sadness, but simply could not….everything was just beautiful in my life at the moment. It is something that came from a deep deep place within…only afterward I understood what it was and what had caused it to service.
Upon returning home to Israel, I began my Reiki Sharing group and at the first meeting, one of the people working on me said she felt a deep, profound sadness within me, so intense that it was difficult for HER to bear. I again said I could think of no reason for such sadness to be sensed as I was in an extremely tranquil and harmonious time in my life and all seemed to be going really well for me.
Once I found out the dates connected to Abdellah’s illness, his death, his memorial services etc., I went back and checked the above things by date as well. I was SO intensely ill just at the same time that Abdellah was at the most critical part of his own illness with pneumonia. The day he passed away, and no longer felt the suffering from the symptoms, was February 22nd! The same day I first was able leave my room, feeling complete relief from symptoms as well.
The booklet “Do Not Grieve” came in very handy the first day I heard the news at home as it helped me to put things into perspective and come to terms with what had happened.
The day of the Reiki Sharing Group turned out to be the same day that a Memorial Service was held for Abdellah in the States, and again the sadness was felt by me. And the sadness I felt in India, well, my soul KNEW what had happened…it just had no way of communicating it to me on an intellectual level, so even not knowing, I also KNEW, and the sadness already enveloped me.
And of course Abdellah continues to do things for others even though he is no longer here with us physically. The lessons I learnt from him, and continue to absorb, lead me to understand that someone near and dear needed immediate help, and that even though everything common sense told me said I could not help them, Abdellah said I could and should, and so I did, and wonderful things have happened to an entire family through that help but with thanks to him.
I will end this post with my thanks to God and the Universe for bringing Abdellah into my life, and to Abdellah himself for all the wonderful days he spent with me, and for the lovely moments he still spends with me to this day.
Goodbye My Friend!