"I was mesmerized as I watched her that day, demonstrating a most precious lesson, that all of life is a celebration".
- Boaz Gabay, 2006
I have just been to the funeral of the woman alluded to above, Lyndell Rowan Gabay. These are the words of her husband, Boaz, spoken around a year ago at a ceremony where he and Lyndell renewed wedding vows, celebrated Lyndell's 40th birthday and planted a tree to commemorate the death of her newborn daughter 2o years ago.
I knew Lyndell only casually from our yoga center, but wish I'd known her longer.
As you know, I don't believe in the hereafter, but if there are angels here or there, Lyndell is what I would visualize them to embody. Her angelic looks,; the way she would float across the floor in class, and the 100's, no probably 1000's of lives she has touched make her rather ethereal. She was a nurse/midwife who has delivered heaps of babies and has had four herself.
It was last Sunday, June 3rd, I received a call at the yoga center after teaching my usual morning class. The studio owner informed me Lyndell had been found by her husband, gone, in her sleep. She just turned 41.
We held a candlelight silent yoga class that night for her. We all continued to attend classes throughout the week with heavy hearts, and as her favorite chants were played tearful eyes would catch you in the mirror asking, "Why?"
Again, I did not know her intimately, yet I was so shaken and affected by the response as the week progressed.
Lyndell was Buddhist. Plans were made to have her funeral at the beautiful Buddhist Meditation Center, Chandrakirti, near Nelson.
Where? When? My first Buddhist funeral... and all it implies.
Chandrakirti Meditation Center. I encourage you to check out this website.
Thursday morning I met several others to ride-share. As we started the trek a giant double rainbow appeared over Nelson Bay and sat right over the area we were headed. Lyndell was certainly with us. It was visible the entire drive and sat completely over the meditation center when we arrived. Eerie.
Hundreds of people filled the road walking to the Buddhist center. They carried flowers, food, and babies. A light rain fell. Very silent for such a large gathering I thought. Not much black worn either, in fact the opposite. Bright yellow, purple and green were prevalent. I wore purple. The center is spectacular. A huge altar greets you called a "Long Life Stupa", blessed by the Dalai Lama when he was in Nelson two years ago.
Great vistas of the countryside, my favorite was from an longdrop with a huge cut-out heart shaped window.
A smile just when I needed it.
Then a small hearse-like vehicle pulled up the road among the crowd and stopped. Boaz emerged with some family members/friends. Out of the back they withdrew Lyndell in what looked like a plain wooden casket, hand painted with all sorts of farewells and love, wishes for a wonderful next journey. It was open, filled with flowers.
She looked so small.
First to speak was Mani, the eldest child, age 20 . He spoke like an old soul, praising not only his mother's guidance and love, but Boaz, as well, his stepfather of 11years. I sat diectly behind Mani and the two other children, Che', his sister of 15, and Antonio, his brother, only 8 years old. Throughout this four hour service Mani stayed with them, holding tight, kissing them, sharing memories and tears, lots of tears.
Next up was her father. He did dare ask, "Why"? Through his tears he talked of his 86 year old mum, a midwife also and very close to Lyndell. In ill-health she couldn't be there but wrote some touching words. She couldn't understand why her beautiful angel had been taken when "my bags have been packed for years"!! Some much needed humor.
Lyndell's mother was present, a puddle of grief. I cannot even begin to know how a parent goes about burying a child. It just shouldn't be. I know the Buddhist belief is that nothing is permanent. This current physical body a temporary garment, beautiful, but temporary.
Many friends and family members proceeded to speak. They said how this last year was stellar for Lyndell in her midwife practice, her spiritual path, and her personal life. She had just returned from Nepal and was "changed". She had visited many meditation areas and written postcards/letters to many stating what she'd experienced. She felt truly enlightened. They said it was almost like she knew and was preparing for her next journey, preparing friends and family as well.
The Mosaic Choir sang a few hymns intermittently and then a dance group, friends/peers of Lyndells stepped up. They performed what I believe is the Tara Dance. WOW. It was powerful. In the background a woman was speaking words of power, wisdom and enlightenment as the dancers went through their motions. It was very tribal, almost bacchanalian. The tears dropped to the floor as they danced. I loved it.
Children, many birthed by Lyndell, just walking around freely, looking in the casket, grasping flowers from the altar, no worries mate. . No mums trying to hold them back. It was all so "Buddhist". A new mother walked up to the casket with her 2 day old infant, Patrick Rowan, named after Lyndell, kissed her good bye and briefly laid the baby down on her chest. Lyndell would have delivered him too.
Then Boaz took the floor. He was accompanied by his sister, who flew in from Israel, and didn't speak any English, it didn't matter, tears are universal. He could barely form a word through his sorrow. His angel, soul mate, love of his life, gone. He promised to hold the family together.
Next, a dear friend of Boaz & Lyndell sang "Forever Young". Great voice, played guitar. Doesn't this bring the house down in any situation? That did it for me.
The service closed with a Maori call "Karanga", to guide and support Lyndell on her new journey.
The family then carried Lyndell down to a residential home on the property where tons of food was brought in by everyone there. I saw the occasional monk floating about with shaved head and wearing red robes. We sat on the cool but sunny surroundings and ate. We said our good byes to Boaz.
I returned home with only one hour until I had to teach my usual Thursday night yoga class. It was an amazing day.
A friend of Lyndell's said "Your passion is a celebration of all that dwells in your heart and at the end, your dying a celebration of your living".