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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

529 for Mira and webcast link for memorial

Dear friends,

a quick update on two items people have been inquiring about:

The link for the live stream for the Memorial on Friday 2/17 from 6-8PM is

http://www.csusm.edu/iits/support/mediaproddel/streaming/live/radhika.html


The first 15 minutes of the event will allow people to mingle, get some food and find their seats. We plan to start the webcast between 6:10 and 6:15, and the actual program by 6:20. This allows people who want to view the event live but from a distance to tune in without having to worry that they miss the start. The live stream will also be archived, so that we can make a DVD for us as a keepsake. From what I understand there will also be access to the live stream somewhere online for the next few days after the event, so that people who missed it can still watch it. I will post another link here in case it is different from the live links above.

Another issue is that of donations. While I am happy if people make a donation to their favorite charity in honor of Radhika, some people have asked to be able to do something that helps us directly. For this purpose I have set up a 529 College savings plan for Mira. There were many options, but in the end I opted for the Socially responsible portfolio from the California plan that is run by TIAA CREF. To make a donation you can write a check (there is no minimum) out to

Scholar Share College Savings Plan

and put the account number

2933-203472

in the FOR line on the check (the - needs to be there!)

There will be a collection box for checks at the memorial on Friday or you can mail your check directly to:

ScholarShare College Savings Plan
PO Box 55205
Boston, MA 02205-5205

Another option is to use this information with the bill paying system of your bank.

I want to conclude this blog entry by sharing two pictures with you. The first one should have really gone with my last blog entry, because it shows Ruth and me just after we got back from spreading Radhika's ashes. The second is one of my favorites. Radhika took it of herself while she was in College in India, and you can consider this as a preview of the pictures of Radhika you will see at the event.




Saturday, February 4, 2012

Memorial update

Dear friends,

a few announcements regarding the celebration of Radhika's life on Friday, February 17:


The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Clarke Field House, the biggest event venue on the CSUSM campus. (See www.csusm.edu/news/articles/RadhikaRMemorial.html for the campus announcement.) I had originally hoped that the event would be a bit earlier in the day, but there is a conference at the Field house that day, so this is the best we could do. On the bright side, this will allow people who work until 5 plenty of time to get there.

In spite of the time this won't be a dinner, but refreshments will be served courtesy of the University. We have no idea how many people will come from the University, our friends, family and other people Radhika touched. So it is important that EVERYBODY sends an RSVP using the following link (it just asks for your name and the number of people in your party, so do it NOW!):

www.surveygizmo.com/s3/799025/Radhika-Ramamurthi-Memorial

Parking will be provided for free as well, in the parking lot right next to the parking structure (Lot N in the top right corner of the map www.csusm.edu/parking/images/map.pdf ), but members of the campus community will probably find it easiest to park in the garage itself. If you don't have a CSUSM parking pass, but want to park in the garage anyway, then you would have to pay for that at one of the machines in the garage.

There will be a short program, but it hasn't been decided yet who the presenters will be. If you want to be included in that part of the event, then please email Ranjeeta Basu ( rbasu@csusm.edu ). There will also be an "open mike" at the end for those of you who want to decide last moment if they want to speak.

OUT OF TOWN GUESTS: If you come in by plane and want to be picked up and dropped off at the airport, please contact Marcia Woolf ( mwoolf@csusm.edu ). Also contact her if you would like to stay at somebody's house while you are in town. Make sure to give your exact travel dates and information about the members of your party (number in your party/Male/Female/Children/Special needs.) There are two reasons why we are offering this rather than just pointing everybody to the nearest hotel: For one, coming here at short notice may already be expensive for you and San Diego is beautiful, but not a cheap place to stay, so we want to make this financially easier on you. More importantly, the people you'd be staying with will also have known Radhika, and this will be a nice opportunity for you to connect with somebody else who really cared about her.

LOCALS: If you are willing to go to the airport to pick up or drop off out of town guests, or if you have a spare bedroom you can offer to out of town guests, then please also send your information (available times/beds/restrictions) to Marcia Woolf ( mwoolf@csusm.edu ) so that she can connect you with an out of town guest.

IF YOU CAN'T ATTEND: Don't worry, our technology folks at the University have a lot of experience with life webcasting events of this type, and I will make sure that there will be a link on the blog. The event will also be archived, so that Mira and I will have a lasting memory of this day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Radhika's ashes

Dear friends,

I want to share some events of a spiritual nature with you that give me great comfort about Radhika's passing. Being a Hindu, she firmly believed that we live in this world to learn certain lessons so that our spirit can advance. She also believed that death is just an intermediate stage and that we get reborn in another form so that our spirit can continue to grow and have new experiences. All this is beautifully expressed in the verses Mukund read from the Gita which I shared with you in my last post. In the last few months Radhika also told me on a number of occasions that she felt that life as a woman was hard but rewarding (giving birth to Mira), so in her next life she wanted to take some time off and come back as a big fat male sea lion. As such, her plan was to spend the days lazing in the sun at La Jolla's childrens pool, where we could come to visit whenever we wanted to see her.

The healing started for me when her childhood friend Kalika told me after Radhika's passing that one of her spiritual guides had said to her even before the last round of chemo that Radhika had finished all her lessons for this life and was ready to move on to her next life. Also Radhika's mentor Ruth told me that she knew Radhika's spirit was not dwelling on this past life anymore and was roaming freely.

All this brings me to yesterdays events. After dropping Mira off at school and bidding farewell to Radhu and Venki, the house felt quiet as I waited for Ruth. Ruth is very calm and spiritual, and I was happy that she was going to accompany me and Radhika on this final journey for Radhika's empty shell. I should mention at this stage that Radhika was an organ donor, and even though all her organ's had been ravaged by the cancer and were unsuitable, her corneas were accepted for donation. It makes me happy to think that her beautiful eyes continue to live and that their sparkle brings joy to somebody else.

At 9AM Ruth and I discussed the plan for the day and then we went to Vista for the cremation of Radhika's body which started at 9:45. We placed flowers, 2 coins, some rice and a piece of sacred wood on her paper coffin which symbolized joy, prosperity, nourishment and spirituality. It felt very peaceful as the conveyor moved her body into the machine and the burners started without any sound. The plan was to return after 12 to pick up the remains and spread them in a beautiful place that was meaningful to her which meant the ocean either off the coast of Encinitas (a city she loved in this life) or La Jolla (where she wants to spend her next life).

So we went back home to google for Kayak rental places, since Radhika loved kayaking on the few occasions when we tried it. Since the ashes were part of this life we first tried calling in Encinitas, but our calls where either not returned or came up empty. Also Ruth was a bit worried about going out 500 yards from the coast line (as required by the law) since neither of us had ever done any real ocean kayaking. Curiously enough the first place we called in La Jolla said that this wasn't a problem as long as one went out on a calm day like today. After lunch we received a phone call from the crematorium that the remains were ready, so we went in Ruths car to pick them up, and then drove straight along Palomar airport road to the ocean, a drive Radhika and I have done many times. We then went straight south along the coastal highway 101 to Encinitas were we stopped at the meditation gardens so that she could see the ocean off of Encinitas for the last time in this life and we also lingered a bit at one of the koi ponds. We continued our journey on the 101, Radhika's and my favorite road on this planet, until we reached La Jolla.

We easily got to the kayak rental place by 2:30, and Ruth and I set off in a double kayak straight from the launch area. The ocean was beautiful, with no waves, sunny sky, nobody around us anywhere and only the slightest breeze: a gorgeous day for kayaking! Ruth and I really enjoyed it and we hardly got wet. After paddling out for a while Ruth said that she saw something in the water, maybe a dolphin. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a single seal or sea lion. I knew that we were in the exact right place, and that Radhika was indeed ready to move on. After I gave her a short eulogy to thank her for all the good she did in this life for me and the people around her I dispersed her ashes. We enjoyed the beautiful location for another short while and by 3:30 we returned the kayak. The kayak rental place refused any form of payment, but at least I was able to tip them.

After that Ruth dropped me off at home, so that I could go and pick up Mira in order to take her for gymnastics with her friend Cassidy. I chatted with Cassidy's parents Chris and Cindy for the whole 90 minute class, and at the end it struck me how peaceful my day had been. I only teared up once when telling Ruth a story that was particularly gut wrenching for me, but I never shed a tear. Somehow I felt elated and happy for Radhika that she had moved on and was ready to embrace her next life with open arms, just like she had embraced this life with us over all these years.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Memorial event on February 17

Dear friends, just a quick update to let you know that Mira and I are doing well. Radhika's brother Mukund, his wife Sangeeta and their daughter Dipali were here to support us until last night, and Mira had a great time playing with one of the many iPad's that were all of a sudden in our house. She was a bit unhappy about going to school this morning, but had a good day there in the end. Radhu and Venki are staying here until tomorrow morning, and after that Mira and I will make our first attempts at our new normal. With so many people offering their support I am sure we will be OK in the long run, and in the mean time we will keep ourselves busy.

Several people have asked about memorial services. Yesterday we paid our respects at the Shiva Vishnu temple in San Diego, and Mukund, Venki and I also went to the funeral home in Vista where Mukund read the following verses from the Bhagavad Gita at her casket:

The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time, nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birth-less, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.

Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.

Having gained the realization of the Ultimate Truth, one is never again deluded and even at the moment of death, being situated in this state, liberation from the material existence and attainment of the Ultimate Consciousness is assured.

Tomorrow morning at 9:30 Radhika will be cremated, and I will spread her ashes off the coast of Encinitas or La Jolla. There will be no further religious services, since Radhika's father has performed all the necessary rites in India. However, to celebrate the life she just concluded and to wish her well in her next life we will have a secular memorial event at Cal State San Marcos on Friday, February 17 at around 4 PM. More information will be forthcoming about this event, but I just wanted to put it out there as soon as possible, so that people who plan to come from out of town have plenty of time to make travel arrangements. I hope that we will be able to help out with local transportation and accommodations, so that for now you may just want to look into plane tickets. There will also be a webcast of the event for those of you who can't be present, but want to witness it anyway.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The end of the journey

Dear friends, at 1:45PM on Friday, January 27 2012, my wife and best friend Radhika Ramamurthi took her last breath. She passed away in the intensive care unit of Cedars Sinai medical center after the struggle against cancer got to be too much for her lungs. Mira, Radhika and I appreciate the support we have received from all of you on this journey. I feel fortunate that her cousin Radhu with husband Venki could be in LA with me when it happened, and they are giving us the support we need in this tough time. As we will need a few days to process what has happened we would appreciate not getting any phone calls in the next few days. If possible I will post additional information on the blog. Andre and Mira