Yesterday afternoon I got word that a friend and long time Buddhist practitioner Rita Frizzell died of cancer. Rita and I were dharma friends, having first met as board members of the Nashville Buddhist Festival back in the early 2000’s. Rita was always ready to offer her time and talent, giving so much to establishing Buddhism in Nashville. She even designed One Dharma Nashville’s beautiful logo as a dharma gift. After many years affiliated with the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center, Rita broke away to begin her own sangha, Luminous Mind. She created a dedicated community of practitioners who met every Friday at her home. I know Rita’s sangha will deeply miss her guidance and love of the dharma.
A couple of years ago, shortly before she was diagnosed with cancer, Rita and I met for lunch and shared notes about our sanghas, upcoming retreats and Buddhism in Nashville. As we parted, I’ll never forget the sly grin that came over her face as she said in a conspiratorial tone, “You and me, we’re partners in crime.” Thinking of that moment today brought tears to my eyes.
In Rita’s honor I decided to meditate at dusk. As I began my meditation, I reflected on her life and journey through cancer over the last 18 months. Just three weeks ago she was optimistic after getting some good news about her one of her tests, which gave hope that the cancer was diminishing. But it wasn’t to be; she had a sudden decline just two days before she died. Gone so fast, I thought as a tear trickled down my cheek. Where did she go? But the question dissolved into the sound of frogs singing and rain falling softly on the trees. Love, just like this.