A week ago we found out that Penpa’s mother, Lhakpa, is sick with cancer, and that she only has a few months to live. This news devastated us, not only for the loss of her from our life, but also because we still haven’t had a chance to introduce her to our baby boy Gem.
If she is going to die, we want her to know her grandson before she does, and we want to help her pass away peacefully after spending her last days wrapped up in love and healing. Since our life’s work is to help people heal, we are committed to provide her with the support and environment necessary to either meet death gracefully or find a path to miraculous healing, as both routes are possible.
Lhakpa is an amazing woman with a tragic and inspiring story of a life as a Tibetan refugee, a mother of 8 children, an artist, and now a grandmother facing a terrifying diagnosis. Penpa has written from her heart about Lhakpa’s life, so please read below to meet this precious woman.
A Song for My Mother
My mother is dying. We all will die. We think we know that, but we live as if we will live forever. Forgetting to prioritize, forgive, and love.
My mother is dying. She has stage 4 Gastric Adenocarcinoma – terminal stomach cancer that has spread to her liver, pancreas, heart and intestine.
All sorts of feelings, sensations, thoughts, concepts, fear and hope are moving through me.
Just like mama Earth who too is suffering from terminal cancer of climate crisis, her stomach and womb exploited, extracted and toxified with trauma – my mother too is a consequence of land displacement through Chinese colonisation of Tibet, poverty, self-centred patriarchy and oppression.
With all of these truths in my face – I also know from living Dharma and yoga that healing is possible. Cures are possible, even though conventional medicine has given up, other than palliative chemotherapy as a “remedy.”
My mother like me was born in Tibet. She had to leave her parents and travel across the Himalayas into exile to India to save our lives (me and my older brother’s). She already lost three children who were born after me to undiagnosed health conditions.
My mother loved her mother. I remember my grandmother being a small harsh woman. She always caught me stealing some dried fried bread snacks from the food pantry and chased me out. I was less than four years old.
My grandfather was tall, dark and handsome. He was gentle. I used to pluck his beard hairs by feeling them with my tongue and placing them between my teeth like a tweezer. He always carried me around on his lap.
I was 4 ½ years old when I left all of that behind and crossed the Himalayas with my older brother, who was 9 years old, my mother and father.
My brother and I were enrolled in Tibetan Children’s Village, a boarding school for Tibetan refugee children in northern India founded by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his sisters.
This school saved our lives. I was fortunate that I was just a kid. For adults, making a living in a foreign land as a refugee without education and skills is a complete uphill battle.
Land displacement, separation from her family back in Tibet, losing three of her children to diseases, poverty, and a marriage to an extremely abusive man who would violate all her boundaries, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, kind of set the stage for the development of a chronic disease.
Lack of education and resources for healthy living added to the dynamic. Alcoholism and addiction to pain didn’t help.
When her mother and father died in Tibet, she wasn’t able to be there during their last days and I know she held onto that grief for a long time as well.
My mother is a result of trauma after trauma. She held onto her pain. Her guilt and broiling silent rage ate her from inside. She is also the result of resilience and trust in life. She is a survivor through and through, and if anyone can survive this it’s her.
My mother is also a wonderful dancer. She loves to laugh at goofy jokes. She sings beautifully. She carries ancestral wisdom songs in her bones. She weaves beautiful Tibetan tapestries, carpets, blankets and aprons. She is crafty. She is a storyteller.
Yet, in an underprivileged environment, there is no platform to express her craft with pride and exuberance. There are no markets and marketing. And survival is the goal. So my mother survived, barely. Now she is dying. I say this out loud because I must come to terms with death, impermanence and the sacredness of life.
I fear with her, a lineage of Tibetan art will die.
When our elders pass away, along with them, so does their life’s work, unless intentionally preserved. This trip will allow me to record as much as we can and preserve it.
I see cancer take over my mother’s body. I see cancer take over our mother earth’s body.
I see that I must sing. I must sing heart songs to my mother, the spirit and the earth, both of whom gave birth to me.
I love her. I love her deeply. I need to reach her bones, marrow, organs, blood, heart, stomach, liver, intestines, and her spirit. I need to cradle her in my love.
I need to seek forgiveness. For my abandonment. For my arrogance. For my disconnection. For my exploitation of her sacrifice.
My mother sacrificed her youth so we could live and thrive.
I don’t know anymore the difference between my biological mother and this earth mama. They both are so so alike. Both of them capable of immeasurable love, sacrifices and rage
They are both suffering because their children have forgotten this sacred bond to life.
All my youth, I tried to run away from the shadows of my mother. I’d forgotten that she too was a daughter. I expected her to perform a perfect mother duty in the face of colonization, oppression and poverty.
The past decade has been a decade of reconciliation between my mother, mama Earth and me. I’ve spent almost every moment of the last decade in healing my heart, mind and body of the same toxic rage of abandonment and betrayal from the world I have felt since my childhood as a refugee, crying and uprising on the streets of India asking the good people of the world to protect truth, speak up, stand up and fight for justice.
Falling in love with Brett has a lot to do with my healing path. It was a battle of dismantling my internal oppression and fighting against external oppression and for social injustice. I no longer feel disempowered. I know now how intimately we are connected even if we reject it. I want my mom to heal her wounds. Internal wounds. Cancerous wounds. I want her to be able to digest life and reality without misunderstanding.
I pray it’s not too late.
Not too late to massage her and rest at her feet.
Not too late to listen to her life story with reverence.
Not too late to fulfill her heart’s deepest wishes from this material world.
Not too late to show her my heart. My deep embedded songs for her.
The blossom of seeds that she planted.
I want her to reap the benefits of her sacrifices.
Conventional medicine has given up on her. I trust in my heart that both of them, mothers of flesh and Mama Earth, can heal completely. It will take a miracle. Fortunately, I know miracles. My life is a miracle. And miracles are the science of alignment. Alignment is calibration of mind, body, speech and spirit. Each of these has a sacred geometry to follow for vitality and vibrancy to express. It is a deep soul work. Retrievable of our lost life force. Our inherent connection to divine.
Life and death, these rhythms of existence seem to go hand in hand. Can I help my mother to find peace and joy in both light and shadows of existence and usher her into her free state? This is my prayer. Whether she lives or dies, that she is at peace with both.
I hope to spend time with her for the rest of her days on this earth. I want my son to know her. Remember her in his bones. That she is his lineage.
Will you help make this journey possible for me and my family?
Your support, love and contribution will not only help my mother, me and my family in these precious luminal space to connect. It will also help to facilitate the initiation of befriending death and allow me to serve humanity from this place of understanding. What I learn from this close up understanding of loss and death will help me more effectively to help those going through similar loss. My work as a healer and alchemist in this time and space in our collective evolution will be greatly influenced by this experience. So your help and support will have ripple effects.
Our beautiful boy Gem is turning a year old in a couple of weeks. I am so grateful to be gifted with the role to love him unconditionally. Gem teaches me about joy, an effortless practice of allowing life to move through without resistance.
As he starts his life anew in this form, my mother is fighting to keep death at bay for a little while. What a life cycle! What a teaching moment from the universe about impermanence and death. I receive this teaching.
I know from living my life alternatively, choosing a life alternative to mainstream living, that there are so so so many other options that conventional medicine is not willing to try because there is no profit there.
So honoring the preciousness of life – taking full ownership of our health, me and my family, after consultation with the wishes of my mother, along with my privilege of years of research in alternative living, are going to explore healing naturally using the resources mama Earth already abundantly provides, while taking a vow to protect her sacredness.
This is a journey within and without and all in between.
I am excited, nervous and devastated, hopeful, clear in my priority and grounded in my gift.
I trust the unknown
I surrender to the unknown
I show up to face all of it.
All prayers received in gratitude
In order to fund a trip to Nepal so we can caretake for Lhakpa, we have setup a GoFundMe. Please contribute if your heart feels inspired to do so.
If you’d like to contribute without any fees, here is our PayPal and Venmo information:
PayPal – https://paypal.me/brettgengle (Send it as a gift to friends/family to avoid fees)
We will be posting more updates here on our blog, as well as on our Patreon and social media accounts, so follow us if you want to see where this journey goes!
With lots of love and gratitude,