Today was one of those days that you never want to have. Today was a sad and heartbreaking day. The world lost a soul that spent her life diminishing the suffering of humanity. Nemam was a dear friend and I loved her.
I spent some time speaking with a friend venting my anguish. He listened and then wrote the following. When I read the email I wept and was consoled. He wrote of Dr Nemam Ghafouri. Here is the email I received from Ben Smalley. He put into words what I could not speak without being overcome with grief. He wanted to help me. He gave me a moment; a moment in time that was filled with thoughtful wisdom and sight. Thank you, Ben.
I wanted to write and share my thoughts to you while they were fresh in my mind. I know your heart is hurting right now, and you are heading through a period of grief ahead, I also wanted to express my thankfulness that people like you and Dr. Ghafouri are in the world.
This world can be such a terribly dark place. I think alot about the Buddhists who would say that it is in everythings nature to be suffering...in the purest sense of the word, we are on a path toward decay on one level or another, and at some point, many years from now, even all memory of every facet of what every one of us ever was or hoped to be will be erased through the passage of time. Because of that essential and inevitable suffering in life, we need to be very mindful of our attachments, because each attachment we make, we open ourselves up to more suffering, as we know that it will decay.
Contrasted against this immense backdrop of inevitable suffering are the small joys, that while impermanent, are the things that we choose to live for. They are the little things like the smile and laugh of a child, love, joy, the smell of a rose, fresh socks, etc. They are selfless acts of courage in the face of immense odds such as the firefighter that runs into a burning building to save those who can't run away, or people like you and Dr. Ghafouri, who spend their lives at great risk to make the world a little better for the innocents caught in the crossfire of immense tragedy.
What makes these things even more beautiful to me is their brevity. The life cycle of lillies is a perfect example of this to me. All year long, we wait for this bulb to sprout, grow, and bloom this enormous, beautiful, fragrant flower. Within a matter of a couple days, the petals will fall away, and it will die. We pretty much get 3/365 of the year to appreciate a Lily that we put all this work into. But that brief bit is a small joy that we will do year after year. It is the epitome of a metaphor for the brevity of beauty in the expanse of decay (and eventual rebirth). Humanity is alot like lillies to me. It takes alot of work, we suck up alot of resources, most of the time we aren't much to look at, but we do the work and for a brief span of time, we are magnificently beautiful.
I am sorry for your loss, and even more for the lives of the people that Dr. Ghafouri did not have a chance to touch, but more than anything, I am thankful that even in the brief span of time she was there to be a light to others in a world that suffers. I am thankful that you came into my life to show me her light as well as your own. She was quite a lily.
You are genuinely one of my favorite humans on the planet Stan. It hurts to see you hurt. I know that I am kind of a pain in the ass sometimes, but I appreciate you being there for me through ups and downs, thick and thin these past couple of roller coaster years, as I have put my life together. I am thankful for your guidance, friendship and love and being an example of someone that I can aspire to, while still being an ordinary man.
Something that has been comforting to me through times of grief and loss is that I can take a legacy from the people I have lost. When my aunt died a couple of years ago, it hit me hard as she was the first of my mothers brothers and sisters to pass away. I watched her sitting there, the next oldest, with a head full of gray hair, lowering her sister into the ground, and the brevity of life really hit me hard. This one persons entire life concluded, memories sealed, and done. The best I could do was to take up some of her role. I appreciated the pieces of her sense of humor that I carry in my own (she's very sarcastic). She caled my mother all the time and texted her silly stuff, so I picked up that behavior too. She was a wonderful photographer, so I picked that up too. I have since reconnected better to my mother, and I have grown more for having had her as my aunt. My grandmother is about to pass, and I will pick up the best pieces of her in my heart and she will keep living through me, and the pieces of her that I pass on to those who know and love me. In that way, she will continue.
In spite of never really knowing Dr. Ghafouri, she will carry on her legacy through you and the others she has touched, as you will through the people you have touched. Again why I am greatful to have you in my life. You will affect the world for the better through me, and eventually the people that I have the opportunity to help.
I know this is running long, but I wanted to share my thoughts with you as you are processing stuff. I know it is alot. If there is anything I can do to help, I will.
Fucking love ya Stan. I do try to be mindful of my attachments (in that spirit of Buddhism), so I do not say that lightly. You mean alot to me. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask.
-- Benjamin Smalley University of the Pacific Benerd College