On May 2nd 2010, our dear Dharma sister Miriam Welsh van Husen (Chan Bao Ho – True Precious Protection) gently exhaled her last breath as the sun came up over Ottawa’s General Hospital after several months of struggle with intestinal cancer. Miriam, aged 59, had a long career as a beloved librarian in the Ottawa Public Library. Her husband, Carl van Husen, predeceased her by three years.
Miriam was surrounded throughout her illness by several loving Sanghas and long-time friends who helped her through this difficult passage, especially the last two weeks in hospital. She was supported by the presence of many members of the Ottawa Pagoda Sangha, by Sister Thich Nu Giai Nghiem, by the Montreal Maple Village Sangha, Brother Chan Huu and Sisters Chan Nha, Chan Dieu Hai and Chan Hao who came to chant Avalokiteshvara’s name and to offer the “Discourse to Be Given to the Sick” meditation led by Sister Giai Nghiem. Miriam was especially grateful that Dharmacharya Chan Ngo (Vinh Nguyen) was able to catch an early flight from Africa and spend time with her, accompanied by two more Maple Village friends Tài (Chan Hoi Dang) and Huyền-Châu (Chan Tinh Tam).
Throughout her last days, Miriam amazed us all with her steady, calm acceptance of her coming transition, her reminder to friends that “it was all alright”, with her deep gratitude for the life she had lived and the love and care she was receiving in hospital from staff and friends alike. OI from the Pagoda Sangha and close Dharma and library friends took turns to be by her bedside until her last breath.
Miriam graduated from Lisgar Collegiate (Ottawa), studied at McGill University and worked at Carlingwood Public Library. Miriam was a cornerstone of the Ottawa Pagoda Sangha for 15 years, the embodiment of kindness and profoundly dedicated to the practice of mindful living. She took the 5 MT with Sister Annabel at Maple Village in 2000 and received her 14 MT during a transmission ceremony at Maple Village in 2002. She loved animals of all kinds and was especially compassionate towards homeless cats. She taught us each about tender reverence for every living thing, great and small. Each time we would pass a departed animal on the road trips to Maple Villlage retreats, she offered a bow to send the little spirit on its way. She was deeply loved and continues to be deeply missed. We hold her close to us and release her to be so free …