Premananda's letters to Nellie 7

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February 9, 1978
West Bengal

Dear Nellie,

Arrived two weeks ago tomorrow, late in the night. Baba had had several attacks in the preceding two weeks, the latest on the night before our arrival. It is the failure of the left ventricle of the heart and, when the blood backs up in the lungs, severe breathing difficulty called dyspnea results. It is quite serious, and complete rest is called for, and here we are with the festival several days away. I have been nursing Baba as best I can and looking after his medicine and consulting with the doctor every few days.

Baba is very worried about another attack, and keeps saying that his time has come. I curse myself for somehow not getting here sooner. Had I known he was getting this bad, I would have stolen the money if I had to. In two weeks of loving care, however, he has definitely improved, though some days are better than others. I think he will be okay if only he can get through the festival without killing himself through exertion and worry. Sleep, the one thing his heart needs most, is difficult with the festival coming He had not been able to go begging this year because of his state of health, and so the contributions are uncertain. He wants me to stay and take care of him in any case, and I shall.

The other night he was saying if only I had come earlier he would be okay now. I understand that by now. I don’t understand why no one else did. I guess I am growing up to the vision of Baba I had in the beginning and shaking loose from some of the silly ideas of others. Let it be. Baba said the other night, "I think if I survive this I’ll go back to America." It would be the best thing for him and, if he is well enough by May or June, we shall arrange it. Some of the devotees will be looking for a house to keep as an ashram in Baba’s name. To rent now maybe to buy. A nice long rest in the country would do wonders for Baba.

But that seems a long way off now. I am just taking one day at a time. It is a great strain on me to see Baba in weakness and pain, but never mind, my spirits have been greatly uplifted. My long year in hell has dispersed like a nightmare in the morning light. I pray and pray Baba will stay a while longer. To have waited so long helplessly, and then to be too late coming, would be more than my heart could bear.

I am not strong enough yet to be without him, that I have learned all too well and deeply. I am hoping that after the festival, with care and love, he can recover. The doctor is also feeling that way, though even he admits that an ordinary man would have succumbed long ago. Please write to Baba, it would cheer him up. The type of attack he had is subjectively very terrifying. He needs to feel our love and devotion now.

All love,