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July 22, 2011

For David Coady (open thread)

David Coady at Tassajara, as benji (detail)

David Coady at Tassajara, as benji (detail). Photo: Shundo David Haye.

Sadly our dear sangha member, David Coady, passed away last night.

We invite the community to come together at a Community Meeting tonight at 7:30 in the Dining Room at City Center.

Alternatively, the Zendo will be open during the same time.

On the The Ino’s Blog, City Center Ino, Shundo David Haye, posted an account early this morning of David’s passing, A Death In The Family, accompanied by pictures of David.

In the next post, The Morning Schedule, Shundo describes the service this morning:

Everyone had the chance to offer incense afterwards. I think many of us were very aware that usually on a Friday morning, David would be the kokyo as we chanted the Diamond Sutra, after which he would come in with a solo rendition of the Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom, which he always did very sweetly and beautifully with a soft voice that often moved me.

This is an open thread for notes and remembrances of David. What a sad thing to have to say!

UPDATE: If you have a longer remembrance of David than fits comfortably in a comment thread, or a photo or other media file, you can use the contact form to let us know and/or email it to The Great Leap editors — and we’ll post it for you.

19 Comments

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  1. Wendy Lewis / Jul 22 2011

    Many of us are a bit in shock still, but will keep everyone informed and included. If you would like to contact us, please don’t hesitate. Thank you for your thoughts about David at this time.

  2. David's Mom / Jul 23 2011

    We are heartbroken at the loss of our beloved son David.
    It is very comforting to read of how he was also loved by his many friends. We will miss and love him forever. Thank you for loving him too.

  3. Daigan Gaither / Jul 23 2011

    David was a great man. His complete honesty about his suffering never ceased to amaze me. If you asked David how he was, he actually told you the truth. He also listened when he asked how you are. I will miss his humor, his smile, his wit and his courage. I love you David, and am Sorry you are gone from us.

  4. David was a dear friend of mine. I think we both did our first summer at Tassajara together, in 2004, and I know for sure that we went to GGF together that fall, and then back to Tassajara in the January 2005. He was at Tassajara the whole time I was there, I’m pretty sure, and then spent another year or so there after I moved to the City. When he moved back to the City, I was really happy to have him around.

    I remember running into him on a trail in the mountains above Tassajara. I suggested that we hike together, as we had before, but he politely and sheepishly declined. He said he was having such a fine time alone in the forest, looking out for birds and lizards, enjoying the stunning scenery, and just being alone in that amazing wilderness. I of course totally understood, and I think we made plans to catch up with each later in the day. That’s how I want to remember David – so at ease and enjoying his quiet life – but of course, there was much more to him than that.

    He was one of a handful of City Center folks that I hung out with “after hours” and on the weekends, often dragging him down to Momi Toby’s in the evenings, buying him a beer or two. David was one of a few people I made it a point to keep in touch with after I left SF for Austin. He was hilarious. He was incredibly gentle with everyone, as far as I could tell. He found the practice difficult, and he practiced sincerely. He was a sweet man. (And there are few people I would say that about.) I loved him very much, and so did a lot of other people. Something kept him from believing it, however.

    During one summer at Tassajara, I had a habit of reading at the window of my room just when David happened to be getting off of work, and he would walk past my window on the path to his place, like clockwork. I would try to predict when he would walk by, so that I could be doing something weird/stupid as he walked by – picking my nose, attempting a headstand, standing there with no shirt on. One day he walked by and without even turning to face the window, he flipped me the bird! That started a long-running inside joke where we would try to find the most stupid, inappropriate ways to flip each other off – while passing each other in the hallway, working in the kitchen, serving oryoki to each other, sitting across from each other in service. It got to a point where we wouldn’t even have to flip the bird; we’d just look at each other and laugh and shake our heads at our stupid, stupid joke.

    We also liked to pretend that the colander in the kitchen was the Starship Enterprise, and we’d sing the Star Trek theme whenever we used it.

    Yup, David and I were great practitioners of the Way. Dogen Zenji would be proud!

    I’m cracking up as I type this, and now I’m crying, too. I wish you were still here with us, David. I wish I could come visit you in SF. I wish you could come down to Austin and hang out for a few days. I wish I could call you up and talk with you about the latest Zen Center gossip and whatever else.

    When he was benji, he was so nervous to write and read his poem for the shuso ceremony. “Don’t worry about it, David,” I told him, “Everyone loves you. Your poem will be just fine,” and I was right.

    He wrote, “How beings with nothing to hold on to find joy, compassion, and forgiveness is beyond miraculous.” David, I wish you could have seen the joy, compassion, and forgiveness that your friends were so willing to give you. I miss you terribly.

    If anyone reading this is suffering from depression or similar disorders, please get the help that you need, and please know that you are more worthy of love than you can know.

    • David's Mom / Jul 24 2011

      Thank you so much for your wonderful words about out dear son David. It is so comforting to read all the good times that he had with all of you wonderful friends. We are so grateful. We are heartbroken at his loss and will love and miss him every day for the rest of our lives.

    • Stephen Coady / Jul 25 2011

      Oh, I love this. Hilarious and touching. I hope to meet you some day. – David’s brother, Stephen

    • James P. Coady-Hahn / Jul 26 2011

      Thanks! Hilarious and beautiful.

    • Mako Voelkel / Jul 30 2011

      Thank you Trevor for your wonderful and true words. Reading them made me laugh and cry as well.

  5. Stephen Halpert / Jul 24 2011

    Dave is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve known. I always enjoyed his company and will miss him; especialy his wit and light hearted sense of humor as well as his encouraging me to continue creating collages. My condolences to his family and friends.

  6. Tasha Halpert / Jul 24 2011

    A precious soul has gone to be with the All, and those of us who remember him know that he is happy there. All who knew Dave are blessed and those who spent time with him are doubly so. I so well remember him when he came to our meditation classes so many years ago and am so happy that he found ways to express his specialness and his spirituality. It is good to remember him.
    Blessings and Best Regards to his family and friends, Tasha Halpert

  7. Amina Cain / Jul 24 2011

    I’ll miss you forever, Dave. Thank you for your friendship and for being such a kind and gentle person.

  8. megan packer / Jul 25 2011

    My thoughts are with all the community and David’s friends and family during this time of great sadness. Although I did not know David well – in my times at SFZC during the past two years, I remember his presence, clearly, as a gentle, kind being. My heart goes out to everyone at city centre.

  9. Amy / Jul 25 2011

    My friend and departed dharma brother Hector once said to me:

    Amy, sometimes I want to shake the shit out of you, because what would remain is pure gold.

    I’ve never forgotten it. And it was a reaction I had so often with Dave Coady. I wanted to shake him until the teeth rattled in his buzzy head. I wanted to smack him like some doctor with an hysteric in an old drawing-room play. I was often quite sharp with him because I wanted to shake the shit out and let the gold shine through. I regret my impatience. But I still feel it now! I’m sad but mostly I’m furious. What a brain! What a heart! What a cocktail of tics and gifts and troubles.

    He could slyly ventilate or undercut anything–especially melodrama or hubris. So why, at the last, the terrible, terrible theater that is suicide?

    I say all this with grief, exasperation and love. Which is what I’m left with, remembering him.

  10. Silvia kohen / Jul 25 2011

    Dave I feel sad and sorry that you left your body…I don’t really understand how it all works…
    one evening, one summer at one table in tassajara we sat after dinner and talked I was recovering from a total loss of Vision of one eye in my grief I was so greatful to be alive
    you were telling me you were depressed and were taking medication
    I was enjoying your kind face and kind eyes . We talked about How can we trust a mind that flips at any moment that responds to a substance , a powder, a drug) a thought, a wind of confusion I somehow wanted to expresse that we should not trust that kind of mind
    We looked at each other …
    Today I pray your spirit is soaring at peace. I still don’t understand a thing…

  11. Chris / Jul 25 2011

    I thought I should re-post my comment on Shundo’s blog here. Shundo’s Friday post recounted the beautiful way David served as kokyo on Fridays — where the whole group is softly reading the Diamond Sutra aloud. Each reads at his or own pace, filling the room with a murmur of language that I have always found somewhat uncanny. Then, after the allotted time, David’s role was to begin singing the Hymn to the Perfection of Wisdom as all of the reading dies away.

    Sadly, I know, I knew, David by sight more than anything else.

    But the way he sang the hymn! It sort of drifted in above everyone’s murmuring the Sutra. Almost like I was hearing it in my head first, before realizing that I was hearing it with my ears. And, then once listening to it, it was so lovingly, tenderly, hopefully sung.

    So many people who knew him have used the word ‘gentle’ in their remembrances. I can’t say I knew David, but I can say that I was truly touched by his gentleness.

    He will be missed, even by one who didn’t know him. And my condolences to those who did.

    –Chris.

  12. James P. Coady-Hahn / Jul 26 2011

    A man of little or no self-worth could not have touched so many.

    We miss you and love you, David:
    July 17-1965 to July 21-2011

  13. Lydia Linker / Aug 7 2011

    David and I had only become friends over the past couple of months, but within that short amount of time, there was much about David that I just loved. We would sit next to each other at meals and have lively discussions about music, movies, humor, and life. When we were done eating, he would take my plate and come back with tea for both of us. He liked rooibos tea, which I like as well, so I would be excited to drink his tea of choice with him. One evening when he was bringing our tea, he asked me, “Do you know what kind of tea frogs drink?” In my head I was thinking I had never heard of frogs drinking tea, so I said no with a rather puzzled intonation. David replied in a deep Boston frog accent, “Rooibos. Rooibos.” Like a cartoon frog saying “Ribbit. Ribbit.” That joke made me laugh so hard. David was surprised that I laughed at and enjoyed his silly joke, but was appreciative of my response. He was a very gentle man, not without a dark or wry sense of humor, and he made me giggle and smile. When he made me smile, it would make him blush and smile and that’s the image of David I see when I think about him. I miss him very much. My deep condolences to his immediate family and his sangha family.

  14. Lisa Nelson / Nov 20 2011

    Dear David:

    I heard about your death months ago. It was a shock and I felt great sadness when I thought about the pain you must have been in …. How fragile our lives are…. We walk such a fine line at times…. Times when impermanence doesn’t seem real, when it seems the pain will never cease….

    I got involved with my life and your image faded.. Then just a moment ago I looked at the angle of my left arm, it was an odd way for me to hold it. A ninety degree angle, held slightly higher than usual. At first I didn’t recognize it, that angle but it seemed strangly familiar. I then realized it was the way I often saw your arm, as you talked or hit a gong or took your dishes to the dish shack. Your smile came back to me, my heart opened to you and then I looked for something that brought me closer to you… Something i could hold onto… I found this web site….

    I remember when we first met, it was at Daigon’s practice period at Green Gulch. I wish I remembered more of our conversations… But I do remember a real sincerity as you faced yourself and hard times. And a quick smile and a kind soul. But so hard on yourself…. I remember saying to go easy… Treat yourself as you treated others, in that gentle way of yours….

    Then I found myself at Tassajara that summer and then a practice period of Rebs…. You were there also. I can recall our talks about practice, your family, hiking and exploring the terrain. Physical, emotional and mental terrains. Terrains of our spirits and mind states. I left the formal practice of living in community. You stayed even though things could be rough at times, I had so hoped you had found a place you felt safe and secure as you faced the darkness than could come…. when I heard you were no longer with us, there was a feeling of loss. You were one who I so appreciated having around when I was there. You were so real, so forth coming, so giving of your joy and your pain. It was a real honor to have been a part of those conversations. Thank you for your presence, it lives on in all those you touched. I will do my upmost to be worthy of what you gave…. A deep bow to you, Lisa

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