We are all about to be sick, sick, or recovering from sickness. The time span between these conditions depends on many variables. What we do during, after, and before these events are life-saving. Not in the sense of not dying but in keeping our aliveness flowing...
My Aunt Cleo died last week and my Aunt Luella is dying. They are the last of my father's generation the first his sister-in-law and the other his sister. In between, I had surgery for prostate cancer. Shakyamuni Buddha spoke to this tintinnabulation as life. How we face these moments as Soto Zen Buddhists are the same as facing the birth of a child or the wedding of two people-fully aware of the wonder of it all.
In early 1970, I worked at Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University. I was in my late twenties working with legends in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Civil and Human Rights Movements. The president emeritus at the time would often be asked to write obituaries of members of the Clark Family who had passed. In one Board meeting he was given several to write-Yes, I know he said, I'll do it until I can't.
Our responsibility as sentient-beings is to live our lives until we can't while remembering those who have entered Parinirvana while smiling to those who continue living...