This correspondence it published here with permission.
Dear Rev. Mugo
I find myself deeply in grief for somebody who died over 50 years ago – how on earth can this be?
When I was about 7 years old the family moved to Devon, and we lived there until I was 12. Obviously I accumulated the usual motley collection of friends through primary school and into the grammar and I became particularly friendly with one boy. Obviously, when we moved away, after I had two terms in the grammar school, I had to leave these friends behind and I found this very difficult.
This turned out to have been the ‘Rosebud’ event in my life, I hope you’re familiar with Citizen Kane. Throughout my life I have had occasional vivid and highly emotional dreams, which have had my hometown as their focus, and I have tried, from time to time through the Internet etc, to renew contact with my friend, without success. I found this failure surprising because he had a quite unusual surname. Anyway, I think I had always assumed that I would eventually track him down.
About a week ago I found somebody on the Friends Reunited website who was my contemporary at those two schools, and I contacted him. I discovered that my friend had died, from peritonitis caused by a burst appendix, within a year of my leaving the area. I was appalled – by the senselessness of it and by the thought of all I have experienced in life that he has been denied. He also gave me the address of a website which contained his photo.
I don’t mean to burden you with all this, but it’s an odd story isn’t it?
Yes that is an interesting story. You can do all the normal Buddhist things that you already know about: offer merit, ask for a memorial at the priory or do one informally yourself, put his name on the transfer of merit board and the like. This will help and it will probably help you too. Your looking for him, finding him and then finding that he had died, and so soon after you lost contact is indeed, interesting.
I believe this is another example of how the benevolence of the Universe works. Quite naturally, and out of conscious awareness, we’re drawn towards conditions and circumstances that can help and teach. So thanks for this and I’d like to publish this story if you are willing. Mugo
(this letter added to this posting on March 9th after having received permission to publish)
Dear Rev. Mugo,
It was very kind of you to reply to my story. I am rather stunned by it at the moment and don’t want to do anything beyond reflection and meditation. I expect I shall ask for his name to be read out at the next Segaki. Please use the story as you like.
In case you think I have entirely lost my senses of proportion and humour, let me say that the message containing the news of my friends’ death also brought news of another friend. He was killed, several years ago, by a camel. Apparently he was driving a car in Saudi Arabia and collided with the unfortunate animal. I am beginning to get a bit wary of doing any further research using Friends Reunited.
Here’s an after thought from Mugo: Finding somebody can be double edged and outcomes unpredictable, and one has to go by the simple sense of if it is ‘good’ to do.
Hum, and I must track down a copy of Citizen Kane and view it sometime.