Chris Tilley: Courage, Love, and Tattoos
Our friend Chris Tilley recently lost the love of his life, Pat-E, to cancer. They were together for 18 years. It was a tough process, but he stood beside her through thick and thin. Pat-E was incredibly brave, she wore her heart on her sleeve until the very end. Her posts on Facebook were heartfelt and wise. Chris, a long-time dharma practitioner, sat beside her, meditated with her, sent her metta, and worked with her to remain grounded and present through the dying process.
As many of you know, my husband and I have LoveMore tattooed on our hands. Several people have followed suit, and it's always been an honor to see another pair of hands added to the mix. Chris did something particularly special. He tattooed LoveMore on his hands with Pat-E's ashes mixed into the ink. When he told me he wanted to do this, I cried. Then he shared his beautiful words about Pat-E with me, and his process in letting her go:
"She battled breast cancer for 43 months and it metastasized to her bones, then her brain, and finally her liver. She was an artist, a voracious reader with a flair for the dramatic. She had a Masters in communication and yet she made her living as a manicurist owning her own business. I spent 18 years of my life with her and she taught me that I was not only worthy of love but allowed me to become a person capable of giving love. I'm so blessed to have had her in my life. She gave me strength until I learned to be strong for myself and she loved me unconditionally. She will always have my heart. She would tell me that she loved me and I would tell her I love you more. I was honored to see her through till the end and was by her side when she left this realm, offering Metta. I let her know how much she was loved. I promised her that her son and I would take care of each other and I let her know that I admired her bravery. Pat-e Figureoa 9/7/60-5/13/15 Live, love, loud!"
I salute you, my dear friend, and I love you. Pat-E will always be with you.
May we all love like you do. To those suffering, please know you are not alone. You are loved. You are worthy of love. May we all have someone by our side in the end. And may we all leave this realm with such grace.