I was touched reading the letters, and I want to republish it here to share the lessons of life.
I hope you learn something out of it, and show Love and Kindness to your family.
Be Grateful Always.
Show Gratitude Always.
Excerpts taken from Brother James Khoo’s letters to his children from February to May 2011 regarding his mother who was dying from cancer. Members who wish to read the complete letters can find them on Buddhist Fellowship’s website.
It warms my heart learning about your concern for Nainai’s condition. A few months back, I cried learning that Nainai has stage four cancer. The tumours have since spread to her bones and lungs. Today I cry because of your compassion and your show of love. It is the tears of joy knowing that our family is full of love and we care for each other. I rejoice at the DNA of hard work, honesty and compassion that Nainai has infused in us. Nainai has always led a digniﬁed life. She came to Penang at the age of four, survived the Second World War, endured an unhappy marriage and brought up seven children in an upright manner. We were poor but always honourable. Each member of the family was always prepared to sacrifice for the good of the rest. When she passes on, we will of cause be saddened because we will never see Nainai again, but let’s celebrate her life. How long will Nainai survive is not important, what is important is the quality of her life from now on and the lessons Nainai teaches us. Treasure life now, make the best of it, put in the right effort, be good, be generous and be up right.
Nainai's body is unwell but her mind radiates equanimity. She says that this body of ours will fall sick and grow old. The body is not us, for if it is us then we can tell the body to stop falling sick and stop growing old. It is more important to practice for a strong mind. You can cheer her up by recounting the happy moments you had with her - like how she used to care for you when you were little, the holiday trips that we did together and the way she used to pamper you. Tell her about some of your in-teresting daily activities. Grieving is a process, it starts with denial, anger, bargaining, depression and at last acceptance. Investigate which part of the grieving process you are in and take care of the health of your mind. Working as a volunteer, I have come across cases where people stayed in the depression state for a long time. It is both not healthy and not beneﬁcial. We hope Nainai will recover but let's prepare for the worst. If you need to say something to Nainai, say it now. If you need to do something for Nainai, do it now. For tomorrow may be too late. We do not want to carry the burden of guilt for the rest of our life regretting not doing what is right.
She is prepared for death, has made alterations to her will and stated her preference for funeral and wake arrangements. She told me that she plans to draw her last breath with a smile on her face. I am sure she will! We often relate giving to donating money. Giving is much deeper than that. Nainai’s condition is a good opportunity for us to practice giving. Give her time, give her love, and give her the smoothing and tender moments of chanting and touching. You will experience the true meaning of happiness and realize that happiness spreads. We do not often have an opportunity to see death and many do not like to talk about death. Nainai’s dying process is a good opportunity to see a loved one dying. Dying is a natural life process, it is not something fearful. Sickness is painful but we have experienced occasional sickness since we were born. Dying can be peaceful and joyful
Nainai has decided that enough is enough. She said that she knows her own body well and has decided not to seek further treatment. HOPE and CURE must now be replaced with just CARE. We discussed Nainai’s decision with the specialist doctor and he agrees with her decision. We are all in the same wavelength now. Nainai sleeps most of the time but when awake she continues to have fun. She cracks jokes; makes fun of the two GuGus who put in the most effort caring for her. Ha! Nainai needs your support now; the two GuGus need your support now. Treasure this remaining month, treasure every moment. Tomorrow may never be.