*I sent this letter to my family shortly after my older sister, Thuy, passed away on December 31, 2016. Brain cancer quickly transformed her into another form within 6 months. Sarah encouraged me to share this letter with you.*
Jan 1, 2017
Dear Family, I would like to thank everyone for being such a great family, working together and staying strong to help out the Vuus and sister Thuy. I think it's a miracle that she passed away in peace and with so much love around her. I felt a lot of peace from her last week.
I think it's a miracle that she had a great life with 3 wonderful children, who are her continuation. I think it's a miracle that she is my sister. Without her fashion guidance I'd still be wearing mismatched clothes! I think it's a miracle that she passed on so many wonderful qualities on to me and all of us before she left. She is needed somewhere else. It's her time to go.
Science says that you cannot create something from nothing. And you cannot make something become nothing (matter cannot be destroyed nor created). The same goes true in the practice of Buddhism. Sister Thuy did not and cannot just become nothing. Her physical body is no longer here but she is still everywhere. Look at her 3 beautiful children. Look at us. Look at the garden in her backyard, she's there! She's in all of us and everything. When you eat her favourite dish and think of her, that's her in you. When you see her favourite flower and smile, that's her in you.
So now, it's up to us on how we carry her continuation within us. Her body now is like old tea leaves after the 4th pot. The first 3 pots of fresh and fragrant tea are already inside of us. Her spirit is in all of us. We are her continuation. I know it's hard to see or understand it now but if you look deeply you understand there's no birth and death. We should not fear death because we will all depart one day as well. Everything is just a continuation. If a tree dies for the winter and comes back in the spring. Did the tree really die?
If you ever find that your mind and thoughts carry you away with deep feelings of sadness, sorrow and despair, please stop. It will not do you or anyone any good because you suffer more and then you make the people around you suffer too. To stop, simply find a quiet place to sit or lie down, place your hands on your heart or belly, take 3 deep full breaths to come home to your body and to let go of the stories created by your mind. With only 3 breaths, you'll soon smile and see that she's right there with you and in you. We inter-are with her. If mindful breathing is too enjoyable feel free to continue. This is also called meditation; focusing on your breath. Trust your breath. Don't trust your mind. The mind has a strong habit of carrying you into the past and the future that is full of negativity. This makes you suffer a lot. Trust your breath. It's a miracle that we are all still alive to continue her spirit, isn't it?
If we look deeply like this, we suffer less and we can continue to live life more fully, more real and more present, while sister Thuy's continuation is in us.
Please spend the next few days in noble silence and focus on your breath. Come home to your body. Come home to life. Come home to your family. Don't live in sadness, despair or sorrow. This is a very powerful and deep practice, but you need to practice it, live it and carry it through. Start with just 5 minutes a day. Or go to a yoga class if you cannot do it alone. We all need to be strong in our mindful breathing to help us say goodbye to her physical body on Friday and Saturday. Please take good care of your despair and sorrow.
On the weekend, let us celebrate her life and celebrate that we have the honor to be her continuation. What a miracle that is. Sleep well. Relax your body. Relax your mind. Come home to your mindful breath. See you all on Friday.