The Man Who Died in My Arms and What I Learned

Susan’s father, Don Perkins, and I on the surface were very different men. We were brought together out of our mutual love for Susan. And yet, in my mind we were starkly contrasted people- I, the creative educator and medical intuitive and Don an international corporate leader.

One of the great gifts Don gave me was that I absolutely learned to follow was the promptings of my heart and not the noise in my mind.

dave and donTo me it was a surprising lesson to learn from a man who was very successful in the corporate world. He was highly principled, a mentor to business leaders and a man respected for asking hard questions.

At times my mental reaction to Don’s questions verged on the edge of craziness. But the love between us, wondrous and mysterious would activate a pulse in my heart that moved me beyond the noisy and demanding reasoning of my mind.

Susan and I knew that Don was very ill when we went to visit he and Jane, his wife, at the beginning of March. In classic clarity, he described how he did not want to die chemicalized and suffering. We asked he and Jane if they would like us to be there to care for them. He said yes because we had the most experience.

Love was leading the way and we dropped into the rhythm of caring for him as his body moved to the point of eventual death.

don and jane

One of the gifts of this experience is that I watched Don demonstrate clarity, integrity and most importantly completeness with everyone around him. He knew he was going to die and chose to be absolutely present so that he would have no dangling fragments of unclarity after he was gone.

He had mentored business leaders and many came to see him to say thank you. He had a visionary message that he delivered for each family member at his 88th birthday family gathering three days before his death. Don and Jane were married for 30 years and what always moved me was the unmistakable love between them that they shared with the family.

I was present in loving and surrender watching a man seemingly so different than me model courage and clarity in the most beautiful of ways.

As the days went by I could feel our hearts joining in ever-greater ways. Few words were said but there was a gravity change and love was the new gravity that let us be together.

Don see's daveWe could see one another and I felt seen as never before by this man whom I always loved and respected but in the beginning didn’t really know how to connect to.

The arrival of a hospital bed in a home when someone is dying is always an important day. The person knows it’s where they are going to die. And usually it’s a very welcomed and comfortable place to put their body.

Don only spent one night in that bed and that night I was his caretaker. He was pretty active, and I was up and down from the sofa I was resting on a few feet away from his bed.

At one point he sat up, I came in the room and in seconds he went to his knees on the floor. I bolted around the bed and caught him just as he was going over. Jane, his wife, had heard the thud as had Susan and in seconds they were each there. As I was holding him, I could feel the warmth of his body and the stutter of his breath.

I checked for pulses as Susan touched his face and called his name but in moments we knew he was leaving. At the many deaths I have been around, it was the most gentle and gracious of passages.

When he left there was rush of radiant light and warmth that entered my body. A luminous bath of love is all I can call it. I can still feel it now.

With the man who died in my arms, I learned that love as the living force that surrounds us is vast and fiercely present and so much bigger than my thoughts of separation, demand, or even loneliness.

I am forever changed. His presence and his death have brought me into greater harmony with all the experiences of love I have ever had in this lifetime.

I offer this as a gift to you so that you might attune yourself to the presence, the life force of love and know that it’s bigger and can move you even at times that seem impossible because your mind, your personality, wants something to be so different.

Let’s all be truly moved in the days before us by this current of love. Don Perkins taught me to trust the greater voice of love. I am so thankful to Susan and to my life for bringing this man as a great teacher to me. I bow in honor to each of us and to the glimmering truth of our sacred nature.

Even when there seems to be great difference, there is always the common ground of the heart.

Love, David

10 comments on “The Man Who Died in My Arms and What I Learned

  1. Linda Magee on

    I also experienced that total overwhelming open hearted and loving face presence on the four occasions I spent time with enlightened yogis at the Oneness Movement center in India. Overpowering. Yet, when most of us get back into all the stresses of daily life, it’s difficult to hold on to.

    So when I first met David about 7 weeks ago I recognized him as being very connected to that love, which is a universal force regardless of what beliefs your mind tries to hold. Because of their trip to Don’s I had to wait over a month for an important appointment with him that regarded a close relationship and my physical reaction to it.

    David’s face during the entire ‘healing’ was transformative. He was just as light, loving, astute, tuned in to spirit, and directed by love as the yogis had been. I get around spiritual circles in San Miguel and in Western Massachusetts and even New York City and have never run into this love since India. My symptoms waned the very next day and I won’t consider going to another healer. Thank you David for all your orientation to love and for sharing it with us.

  2. Jean Owen on

    Hello David,
    Thank you for sharing this very intimate experience with us.
    What a gift to everyone that Don was able to be so present in his last days to celebrate who he was to those that knew and loved him…and to himself to experience the full extent of his living in this life before leaving.

    Towards the end of my mother’s life she and I agreed to ‘agree to disagree’ on many topics over which had previously been a thorn between us and had created a space of separation. This was a place of honor that I was being asked to hold myself, my thoughts, my differences so that I can truly join her from a heart space.

    When I joined her to be with her for her last day…I realized what a privilege it was to be with her in this sacred time and space. To say ‘goodbye’ in a thousand different ways over the period of a thousand moments was such a gift. I talked, read, held her hand, sang and prayed and sat silent by her side. She was still alert but could not talk as she had a ventilator in her mouth. Even through she did not express herself verbally she was very expressive in her eyes and spirit. I was so blessed to have been by her side to offer any comfort to her. In her final moments she was alert and tapping her finger against the hospital bed railing.

    I will always hold this experience of BEING PRESENT with my mother until the end of her life. It was measurable a very small gift to have given her after all that she had given to me over my lifetime.

    Thank you for the reminder that the presence of LOVE overcomes any barriers to our joining on another.
    Love and blessings in this new moon…planting prayers and dreams to blossom and grow. Seeds will have to wait as we are having a snowstorm today in the Colorado mountains.

    Blessings to you and Susan and to her mom Jane in this time of loss.
    Jean (tompahma-woman who walks with the apples) Owen

  3. John on

    David and Susan

    What a deeply loving tribute of sharing such a moving experience of Life and its eternal nature beyond the body.

    Thank for such a beautiful story of love.

    Blessings to you both – Susan for carrying the love forward directly from the human Source that brought you here, and to David for bearing the Light forward to us all to know this wisdom of Love and how it can be.

    John T Emerson, DC

  4. Walter and Karen on

    Thank you so much, beloveds, for sharing your love-filled experience in the heart space in Donald’s transition. What an honor to be able to be conscious in that high vibration through it all, to touch and be touched intimately in each other’s hearts! I had that blessed privilege too, with my mother when she passed, to be at one in the heart space, eternally present in love. And as you said, it doesn’t go away, we get to keep it forevermore!
    Eternal love in the heart space from Walter and Karen

  5. kai binford on

    David, I just finished reading your touching words regarding Don Perkin’s passing in your arms and into a new place. As I read the end I felt a slight cool burst of air on my arms and a lump in my throat as your beautiful words described this very personal and heartfelt sharing of hearts and soul. Thank you so much for sharing a touching experience with Susan’s dad. He was a remarkable man and you are all the better for knowing him.
    My best to you and Susan.
    Any chance you you will be in Phx anytime soon. Richard and I miss you both.


  6. Ruth Hayward on

    Dear avid and Susan
    Your touching tribute to Don brought tears to my eyes. In the photos of his last days he looks very much “alive.”. Thank you for sharing this experience with us all. As we all come closer to death, stories like this make it seem like an adventure to look forward to.
    With love
    Ruth ..

  7. Susan Drouilhet on

    “Even when there seems to be great difference, there is always the common ground of the heart.”

    Indeed. May it always be so. And may we always have the courage and grace to find our way there.

    Thank you, David and Susan.

    Much Loving,


  8. Andrea Girman on

    This sharing is so utterly honest and beautiful, David. If one of the great gifts that Don gave you was to absolutely learn to follow the promptings of your heart and not the noise in your mind, then I would say that the student has become a master at similarly teaching, modeling and gifting. As I learn evermore to make friends with death, I see you and Susan as beacons for the possibility that a surrender into grace with love leading the way is indeed possible. I am so deeply touched by this piece, and am so grateful to both of you. Much love, A


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