My good friend Sudhir Gilbert called me at work on the morning of October 11, 2007 to give me the news. I had just arrived at the office. Sudhir said that he, too, was at work. Apparenty, Guru had had a seizure of some kind and had died early that morning. Sudhir and the other workers at Victory Factory were closing down for the day. Sudhir said he'd call me when he'd heard more.
I thanked him, hung up the phone, and moved to my office window, which looks out south and west from downtown San Diego towards the San Diego Bay, North Island, and the Pacific Ocean. I had a sense of finality, of moment, but no sadness.
I called my brother Jeevan in Santa Cruz first and left a voicemail. I then called my sister Nirbachita in Puerto Rico, who picked up. I don't remember what was said or her reaction, other than surprise. It was a short conversation, though, and with it over I sat down in a chair by my window, with the door to my office closed.
I went through an exercise I had done before when loved ones had passed away from me. I tried to remember the significant moments in my relationship with Guru -- to bring them before my eyes, to feel the emotions as I had experienced them so long ago -- one by one.
Like the day 26 years ago, when as a 16 year old high schooler, I'd received the word I'd been "accepted." Or seeing Guru for the first time in person just a week or two later in Santa Barbara. Or the first words he spoke to me; the first conversation. Or sprinting frantically to Progress-Promise after having overslept a function, only to see Ranjana's car slowly heading up the street in my direction -- the car stopping only long enough for Guru to hand me a paper bag of prasad. Getting my name. Meditating at Rutgers.
So much had happened since then. I had struck out on my own after nine years. I joined the Navy. Got married and had a son. Finished college and graduate school. Had a daughter. Went to law school, became a trial lawyer. Still, the memories of those years were alive, as was Guru's presence to me.
Though I've often missed my brother and sister disciples, I've never missed Guru, who always seemed near. The same was true that Thursday morning.