This, that, and the other thing


This: The other night I was very pleasantly surprised to get emails from both of my teenage nieces thanking me for the Amazon gift cards I sent them for Christmas. This is the first time I have ever received any acknowledgment, much less thanks for the annual sending of the $25 Amazon gift card.

My brother, the girls’ father, and I have been estranged for about a decade now. And even before that the relationship was strained and before that there was another period of estrangement. Our most recent estrangment started after I “came out” to him as a Buddhist. As a fundamentalist Christian, I guess he didn’t want me to have a bad influence on his children. Who knows? But, even though I hadn’t seen the girls since they were very young, every year I sent them Amazon gift cards, and every year it went unacknowledged. I never knew if they got them, or if they got them if they knew they were from me. But, it was the only connection I had with them, so eventually I let go of all expectations of gratitude and sent the cards and hoped the kids were able to buy something fun with them.

But, this year I got a couple of thank you emails from them. They both seem like smart, accomplished, sweet girls, and seemed open to starting a relationship with me. One of them even suggested that next time they have one of their sailing competitions up here in the Bay Area, that we can get together. I have to admit the idea kind of frightens me. But, who knows if it will ever come to pass. I’m just grateful that there is some communication.

That: And speaking of family, I got an email from my only cousin (that I know) letting us know that her husband finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer. The prognosis for survival for more than six months after diagnosis is grim. He survived for five years.

I didn’t know her husband, I barely know my cousin. We got reacquainted after about 25 years when I did some internet searching and found someone who was very likely her. I wrote a letter to her, and lo and behold, suddenly I had a living family member who would actually speak to me. We emailed back and forth a few times, and she let me stay at her NYC apartment.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything, really. But, if you would like to include my cousin, her husband Don and their family in your prayers or dedications, it would really be appreciated.

The other thing: I read a rumor on one of my NKT survivor lists that Geshe-la was stepping down as the Director of the NKT at the beginning of February. So, I went to the main NKT website to see if there was any sort of announcement. Of course, there wasn’t anything. But, I started to poke around the site and found some photo albums and videos of past festivals. It was odd. I found myself feeling, for lack of a better term, homesick. There were people I recognized, people I considered friends. People looked genuinely happy. And then there was the poignant pictures of Geshe-la. He looks much more frail than I remember. And while I’m certain this is my own projection, I saw a sadness in his eyes.

I do miss the community, and the ready-made social life. There are a lot of good, kind people in the NKT. I don’t regret my decision to leave, but there are definitely things I do miss. So, I’ll watch this sense of loneliness rise and then watch it fall, just as each breath rises and falls.

3 responses »

  1. Maybe your nieces are getting to an age where they can think for themselves, and are learning to be considerate. Teenagers aren’t known for the latter.

    My wife and I now have a little white bunny named Little Prince (Xiao Wang Zi). I hope he doesn’t run away as the last one did.

  2. I’m afraid that rumour was probably from me, and it was only half true. He is not officially stepping down till 2009. But he will be effectively letting his successor take over from Feb. It seems my path is turning quickly too. Who knows where it will take me. I still need my training wheels.

  3. It never ceases to make me shake my head and say, “what the . ..” with people who condemn others for their spiritual beliefs. And yet, considering that more wars have been fought over religion than about anything I must be in the minority in this feeling. I just don’t get why people feel so treatened that others don’t worship in the same way they do. Why is that so scary? I hope you nieces grow up to be more open and accepting than their dad. Hope for the future, right?

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