During the beginning of my pregnancy, Jimmy started to lose his eyesight. He lost weight and moved in and out of the hospital. I tried to breathe words of hope into his heart. Simultaneously, I was pulling away from him. I was afraid of not being able to survive without him. I meditated and prayed for him over and over again but I started to understand that Jimmy’s destiny was very different from all of ours. He was here to touch many lives in a short period of time and there was a great beauty and simplicity in the impact he had on others. I was starting to truly accept that his life would be coming to an end. As my pregnancy progressed, Jimmy became increasingly ill and ultimately went blind. He always loved having my son, Kesic over to feed his fish and he was crushed that he could not see him any more. For the first time, he was frustrated and did not want to accept that he had to rely on others. I began to feel guilty, wishing that I could have been a better friend to Jimmy. I was 8 months pregnant when Jimmy was admitted into the hospital one final time. He was so weak and in so much pain, I could see he was slipping away. I selfishly wanted Jimmy with us forever but knew this was not the way anyone should live. When I went by the hospital to see him he was on so much morphine that he was not very lucid. When I walked into his room, I knew it was going to be the last time I saw him. Ken and I had an anniversary trip planned for the upcoming weekend and I was certain Jimmy would kick my bottom to the moon and back if we did not go. Our baby was due in a month and this would be our last chance to get away. The hospital staff did not like having a pregnant woman in his room but I ignored their demands. I went into his room and placed his hand on my belly. I just let him feel my belly and then I grabbed his hand and put my mouth to his ear, and I whispered, “I love you. It is okay to go now.” I kissed his check with tears running down my face and whispered, “Good-bye”. We left on our trip that afternoon and while I felt a lot of anxiety and guilt, I knew that Jimmy would want Ken and me to go on our trip. Yet, I could not shake the great sense of selfishness. I was feeling a sense of confusion not knowing how to be there for Jimmy and truly thinking of Jimmy and his spirit being in bondage in his body. As Ken and I drove up the coast, I began to cry and worry that we should go back, and then suddenly I felt Jimmy’s presence. He was with me, telling me to go and make peace with saying good-bye. I took the time during our stay to connect with my husband, my baby and my own soul. I made peace with the fact that my Jimmy would be leaving very soon. I was fortunate enough to be staying at a beautiful spa with these magical gardens and a labyrinth made out of large stones. I went to the labyrinth on our final morning there, and as I walked slowly inward I said good-bye to a great love and confidant, one last time. Letting go of Jimmy was a metaphor for my acceptance and willingness to move forward and know that I could survive without him. I was ready to move on and soar with the birds; I put my needs aside and truly embrace the freedom Jimmy deserved in death. Jimmy truly had impacted my life and I felt a deep sense of gratitude for him. Within this experience of releasing and surrendering to death, I opened myself up to live a fuller life. I began to understand that there is no permanence in life or in death. It is just an endless cycle, which will continue to expand and contract. It became very clear to me that I had the choice to embrace the full cycle of life and move beyond the bondage I felt as my dear friend was dying. I wanted the freedom Jimmy felt. I carried the peace and knowledge I found in his death with me as a reminder and over the course of the next six months I lost three more young friends who had touched my life. All of them carried the beautiful message to embrace life in every moment you can. Watching all these beautiful friends die, I realized how much I attached myself to their situations and how I did many odd things to cope and protect myself from the potential loss. In their deaths I had to find compassion for myself because initially I began to beat myself up, that I should have been there more or said more or done more. I had to stop the dialogue within my mind and surrender to myself and acknowledge I was doing the best I could within that moment in my life. This is something that we all have to understand about ourselves and others: ultimately we all are doing the best we can. This is never truer then when confronted with someone’s death. It is not a time to judge yourself or others; it is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. Once, you get to a place of acceptance, the judgment slowly moves away and you are able to move on with an open heart. This will allow you to approach all the future dramas that cross your path with true compassion; the drama/pain/trouble will become effortless and much easier to manage. As you embrace and start to really feel the true meaning of compassion you can rely on one thing to support you through the process–Love. It is your essence to your core and you naturally possess the power to share it. You are love! “Aham Prema”, I am Divine Love!