Sacred Law and The Gifts of Hope and Promise After Loss
As I have progressed in age, holidays have been a time for introspection and reflection. Father’s Day is no exception. Material gifts or the number of Happy Father’s Day acknowledgements are not important to me. It is simply another day where I feel blessed to have been a father to three wonderful children, all of whom are making their mark in the world. It is also a day where I am grateful to be alive, cognizant of the fact that many have died way before their time.
Following catastrophic loss or any life altering transition there are teachings or unexpected gifts that we discover in the process of transforming our worldview. Following the death of my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine, I discovered the gifts of “transient angels”, individuals who crossed my path for a short time. Their presence however, was sufficient enough to help me negotiate an uncertain moment or moments, of which there were plenty in the immediate aftermath of my daughter’s death.
Gifts are sometimes bestowed upon us without ever meeting the giver of those gifts. Gifts that are based on sacred law, rather than human law.
Sacred law can be found in the Native American teachings of crow medicine:
“Human law is not the same as Sacred Law. Crow sees that the physical world and even the spiritual world as humanity interprets them, are an illusion. If an individual obeys Crow’s perfect laws as given by the creator, then at death, he or she dies a Good Medicine death- going on to the next incarnation with a clear memory of his or her past.” — Jaime Sams
Approximately 3 years ago, through pure serendipity, a woman who turned out to be my first cousin on my father’s side of the family contacted me. My father, Austin, left my mother Sadie and me, in my fifth year of life, and I never heard from him again. My cousin, Jo Anne shared rich information about my father’s side of the family, information that has helped me further understand the context of the decision he made to leave my mother and me. The full account of our connection and discoveries can be found here.
In order to discover peace with my father’s leaving and make room for him in my heart, I needed to challenge the illusion that he left not because I was unlovable, but because I was lovable.
However, my encounter with sacred law, as it relates to my father’s side of the family, does not end here.
My Grandmother Mary
Shortly after my cousin Jo Anne appeared in my life, my wife Cheri was looking through some boxes and bins in our basement, when she discovered letters that my late paternal grandmother, Mary Strahler Roberts sent to my mother, Sadie. As it turns out, this was another serendipitous event in helping me understand the history of my father’s family. A history that I was beginning to claim as mine.
From 1956–1962, my grandmother Mary sent five letters to my mother. She always inquired about mine and my mother’s well-being and updated us on family news. My grandmother Mary and my uncles, whom I never met, came alive to me through her letters. My grandmother Mary also professed her love for cards and reading the horse racing forms. I remember smiling when I read this and thought that she must have been a colorful character in her day.
She had hoped that we could come down and see her in Baltimore, where she lived and where my father lived before relocating to Upstate New York and marrying my mother. Unfortunately, distance as well as circumstances prohibited a visit from occurring.
A Prediction of Brilliance
There was an excerpt from one of her letters dated April 19th that really got my attention:
“You don’t mind an old grandmother predicting something? As far as babies are concerned, I have been pretty accurate. David has a look about him of turning into someone brilliant. Perhaps that is what a woman we knew told me long ago when Austin (my father) was a baby. She was a pretty good fortune-teller — told us lots of things that came true. She said (I thought she meant Austin) one of the boys would turn out to be governor or even president, a very brilliant man. She may have meant David- he has all the earmarks.”
I also know now that his mother and my grandmother Mary loved my mother and me. My grandmother Mary also communicated faith in my ability to succeed in anything that I chose to undertake, long before I understood what faith and challenges to faith meant.
I never did become governor or president and certainly have no aspirations for political office now, or in the future. My grandmother’s predictions for my future didn’t materialize in its original form, but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is her strong belief in my ability to succeed and that in some way I’d an impact in the world around me. Those were her gifts of promise and perhaps, hope, to me from someone whom I never met, but with whom I now felt a strong soul connection.
“You can’t judge the true value of anyone’s life, including your own”
- The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan