05 August 2013

Lessons Learned From A Dying Woman

Before I left for Poland (where I am now), there was an obituary circulating among my Facebook friends. The odd thing was the obituary wasn’t for anyone we knew or anyone who was famous. It was for a Seattle journalist named Jane Catherine Lotter. You may have seen it. If not, click here.

Lotter, who died of cancer, wrote her own obituary. That may sound morbid, but it’s a wonderfully human, uplifting piece, life affirming without being overly sweet. I think it made the rounds not only because it’s fairly unusual for someone to write their own death notice, and even rarer to read one that leaves you so sorry that you didn’t meet the person before he or she died. 

Jane wrote two paragraphs that really struck me. The first one hit me because it resonates so much with what I believe and what I truly hope this blog reinforces with every single post, every day.  The second paragraph affected me because she is coming from such a place of grace. I hope when my time comes I am able have the sense of peace that she found. What a precious gift.

“I believe we are each of us connected to every person and everything on this Earth, that we are in fact one divine organism having an infinite spiritual existence. Of course, we may not always comprehend that. And really, that's a discussion for another time. So let's cut to the chase: 

I was given the gift of life, and now I have to give it back. This is hard. But I was a lucky woman, who led a lucky existence, and for this I am grateful. I first got sick in January 2010. When the cancer recurred last year and was terminal, I decided to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than sad about having to die. Amazingly, this outlook worked for me. (Well, you know, most of the time.) Meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy also helped me accept what I could not change. At any rate, I am at peace.”

In her last paragraph, she thanks her friends and family, adding “knowing and loving each one of you was the success story of my life.”  Not how many stories she published, not how much money she made, but the community she fostered. That’s the true definition of success. 

Today’s $10 goes to a memorial fund established in Lotter’s name. I have no idea what the money is going to, but after reading that obituary, I bet it’s to something good. 

Aug. 5: Jane Lotter Benevolent Account

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