"the feet of Bhagavan are everywhere. So where can we gather except at his feet?
Time and space are no barriers to the gathering of hearts." Sri Ramana Maharshi

Celebrating the life of David LaChapelle

Celebrating the Life of David LaChapelle: Visionary teacher, see-er of souls, wisdom keeper and devoted follower to the great stillness. Friend to many. Dream coach, author, publisher and speaker. Chanter, painter, builder, philosopher and patriarch. His body let go. His gifts live on...

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Last Days with David, by Cara Cruickshank

Ananda asked me to share my own experience of those last few days with David.

This trip from Seattle has been a true pilgrimge, and one long prayer. After I got the strong call to come help David & Ananda, friend Pamela heroically drove us down. Ananda asked us to prepare ourselves, as David was even more sensitive to people’s energy. So, an opportunity to do the homework from Sensei (as I call David), who often said ‘slow down Cara.’ Ron warned me that David can sometimes reflect people, if their energy was off. So another lesson in releasing my concern, fear, and sadness to focus on giving my love and healing to this amazing man who has meant so much to me; to hold David in the light of who his soul really is, not just what his current body was going through.

Pamela and I arrived Monday morning to a tired Dani and Ron, who had gone through a very tough night with David. Our timing was perfect, as they'd been helping Ananda all week. We centered ourselves again and I sat down at the end of his bed. Thankfully, he did allow me, yet another visitor among many, to gently rub love into his swollen feet and calves. I was so relieved, and happy that we’d done our pilgrimage in such an intentional way, because it helped me feel like I was just a vessel for soothing Davids’ pain a little bit. We didn’t speak, because talking was so difficult for him, and because of the potency of that deep silence he’s talked about. He was coughing so much, and working through that pain, so we just had these long eye gazes, and I struggled at first, with wanting to say so many things to him. It was clear that I needed to simply stay quiet, and let my hands convey the feelings of gratitude, love, and healing prayers. As so many others have done, I figured that this touch might be my main task in being of service to Sensei. And what a relief to finally be able to give something tangible to him! I had longed for this for a year. Though he looked much older, his spirit is so ageless, alive, and forceful! Eyes are the windows to our souls, and his were still so piercing, clear, and strong when he looked at people.

Sure enough, my second massage Monday night, David sensed my energy and asked me to slow down. So I did more breathing, calming, so I could just channel soothing relief. This piece was all I could do, but I had a wish that I could do more to alleviate his suffering! Maybe I could help heal him! Some part of me wanted to rescue him, somehow. There must be a way? Could I get my brother in-law to fly David to Brazil this week? But he was in no shape to travel anywhere, so I had to let that go of my own attachment to just ask for his healing, without knowing what the outcome would be; staying alive, or dying. It was incredibly humbling, because there was absolutely no other place in the world that I wanted to be, but at David’s feet. ‘So this is devotion’, I heard a voice in my head say. I’ve never felt that way before, but it was all that I was here for, all I wanted to do, and I felt it was another gift from David, who has somehow still given and given to us throughout his painful cancer process. Thankfully, our Monday was a good day for him, and for us. We felt needed. Pamela organized meds and charts; I cleaned and massaged. Ananda, along with Kyle, Devin, and Iben the comic relief cat, everybody there was filled with love for each other and for David, so it felt very sweet.

Tuesday morning I brought David Ananda’s incredible smoothie, and he took three tubes. But he was clearly in way more pain then he was the day before. It was the morning of a long distance psychic ‘surgery’ from the healers in Brazil. Ananda came to the bed too, while Pamela sat in the chair. The 3 of us focused on this blessing from afar, but David seemed distracted. I asked if he wanted touch during the distance healing, and he did. So I began my task of massaging his feet, Ananda read to him from a John of God book, and Pamela meditated and channeled a story for David that she later told to him. We three woman totally focused on supporting the Brazilians work, but David was distracted, and seemed barely present for this special healing that had been planned for weeks. We all noticed this, but obviously didn’t know what to say!? We just kept the energy going until he had to get up again. The women left, but David motioned me to stay. He was sending that last email, then seemed so uncomfortable that he just paced around the room.

I didn’t know what to do with myself, except to stay focused and calm, tell my ego to please shut up, and to send him love. When I held out a hand to steady him, he waved it off. So I just quietly knelt on the floor, until that voice whispered again; ‘So this is devotion’. I just knelt there, for I don’t know how long. I wanted to cry, I felt so helpless, but I took deep breaths, feeling gratitude, and so honored to just be there with him; our friend, our Teacher, a wise Metaphysician, and a true Seer. He finally crept back to bed, and I asked if he wanted more touch. He just nodded. Rubbing his feet one more time, I just kept internally thanking him, and praying for his healing. A miracle could still happen! I held both possibilities equally, which was weird, but I was seeing both as possible realities. He was coughing so much, and eating through a stomach tube, but still fighting to stay alive, so I felt like I should support that possibility more. Selfishly too, I wanted him to stick around, like maybe most of us did. One night back in June I went to the woods to pray and cry, begging the universe not to take him so young, when he had Ananda, and so much still to give. But seeing him now, in July, here I was just asking for his healing, because who are we to ask for more than that? I stopped rubbing because he was engaged in emailing and needed to get changed and ready for the doctors’ appointment. Pamela and I said our goodbyes, and off they went.

We focused on working through another lesson from David about maintaining trust in the Universe at all times. I had to surrender to this thing that was happening back on Bainbridge, and Pamela made me shout it out loud, “I surrender!”

Around 1:30 pm we saw lightening and it thundered, the clouds opened up and poured rain for several minutes. We didn’t have a clue yet about David, but the heavens were crying. At 4:30 Ananda called to tell us the shocking news that David had left his body at the doctor's office. O MY GOD he did it! Tears of disbelief, sadness and relief flooded us both. I just kept thinking that he’s free now, he’s FINALLY FREE!

In minutes we were at the mortuary, waiting for Ananda so that we could sit with David one last time. It felt surreal. The place reminded Pamela of a show called 6 Feet Under, so we had a hushed and nervous fit of giggling, which then of course changed quickly back to tears. What was David doing here? He should be on the earth, on a mountain somewhere! Finally Ananda got there after being with David for 3 whole hours. With amazing grace, she, and only she, the sweet nurturing midwife, helped him let go as no one else could have. So we three sat around David for the 2nd time that day. But this time, he wasn’t really there. It was so clear and obvious that his body was just a fragile and empty shell! I was amazed and in awe at how clear it felt that he was finally out of that tortured body.

What a gift he gave us that night. We held the yin and the yang; sadness at the loss of such an incredibly gifted human being, and then happiness that he was free. I went to my place at his feet, Ananada at his head, Pamela at his side. My hands automatically began their job of rubbing his feet, until I remembered that he wasn’t in there anymore, so I just held his feet. ‘So this is devotion’….Quieting my emotional heart, I got an image of David walking down an aisle lined on both sides with a low line of fire, with a whole bunch of beings on both sides of him. It was kind of like a bride walking down the aisle towards people waiting at the alter! These shadowy figures felt like leaders & powerful beings , but I couldn’t really see them. I just saw David walking through and towards them, with fire on both sides of that aisle.

We had the staff turn down the overhead music and sung Hallelujah, chanted Om Nama Shivia. It was so very painful to imagine that there would be no more retreats singing like this, with David strumming his guitar. So again, there was a duality of feeling relief for him and sadness to lose him at the same time. Later, Kyle and Devin arrived, so we gave our chairs to these young men could be with the man that has touched their lives so deeply, and so powerfully. I wish we had a picture of that moment; Devin at his head, Kyle at his feet. It looked and felt ancient. You could feel the strength of their love; it was so sweet, and so beautiful, and so strong. It made us cry some more, from the beauty as well as the grief.

Tears and sadness came and went. We switched places again, and I was at his head, Ananda at his side. This time as I held his head, I quieted down and I got a visual of seeing David’s spirit slipping out of his shell at the hospital. Only I was somehow feeling it too. I think he might have been giving me a taste of what it feels like to leave your body! OMYGOD it felt like slipping out of a very heavy suit of armor! I felt how heavy and dense my body is, and then I felt/saw myself sliding up and out from under that weight and then felt this amazing lightness, but more than lightness; it felt almost like floating, free to move in any direction! It felt SO GOOD! And then it was over, and I was heavy Me again, holding the head of my only Sensei…but it was one more thing that’s made me NOT SCARED of dying anymore!

Running into 2 cougars after a retreat with David on Mt. Rainier was the first thing that helped me get over my fear of death, and now David’s passing has obliterated the residual worries! I thank you one thousand times David. I finally burned some Utah sage all around David. We’d placed a few flowers on his chest, and the guys had also brought wildflowers and a huge feather they placed upon David too. We thought we felt David nearby a few times, but he didn’t seem to be hanging around his body too much. Ananda sweetly led us in a few more chants. The whole evening was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve ever had. What an honor to be there, and what a gift it all was.

As it got closer to 8 pm I started to get peeved that we couldn’t stay with David all night. Ananda and I talked about how in other cultures, you sit for 3 days with a body. We only wanted a whole night! So I joked I knew just what I had to do; I'd hide in the alcove, and after they closed, I'd open the door so that we could carry David’s body, put him down somewhere on the earth! This made us laugh, but we still wished we could do it! This place was so NOT David…..but then again, HE really wasn’t there. Ananda pointed out that maybe WE needed to be on the ground! So we sat out in the side yard, under huge beautiful trees, lay on mother Gaia and let her hold us for a while, which felt so important for our grieving souls. We sang a bit more, and then Ananda looked longingly at the stained glass window and said, “David is right on the other side of that window!” We let the idea of stealing his body go with a little more tired healing laughter, and reluctantly pulled ourselves away from that building where on one level, David was lying alone. On another level, he really wasn’t! I imagined all those beings in that stone temple, plus his father and his mother welcoming him over, and it felt sweet to see David as a son, returning to their arms. He was free, and probably starting to enjoy it! I know that he’ll be doing amazing work from the other side. Clearly, they need him there.

Now, Sunday, I’m up at 9,500 ft. in Silverton, falling in love with this sweet town cradled by the 11,000 ft high mountains! This wonderful community of people love David & Ananda so much; they cleaned the house, removed medical stuff, filled it with flowers, food, and much love! I am so blessed and grateful to be here. Tonight we will chant in circle at the same time as you who all are doing around the country in Ashland, Princeton, Washington, and Boulder. His wisdom needs to continue through us now. Blessings to you, and I hope on Aug.30th that we’ll be chanting together in Yosemite as we honor sweet David in the mountains that he loved.

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