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She gives me strength to endure and grow

We sit next each other, angled just enough to ask and answer questions easily and study the materials he's laid out for me to see. This father’s love for his daughter, as apparent as his pain in her loss, play continually across Dan’s face as we speak of Johanna. We’ve spent over an hour talking about his remarkable child, the heartbreaking story of her murder and her beautiful, ongoing legacy. I’m just asking my last interview question: “What messages do you believe Johanna would want to give others about love and death?” His answer highlights once again the loving force his daughter was during her lifetime and the generous, sustaining legacy she represents in his and others’ lives today.

A father answers for his child: “Love is the most powerful and least understood force in the universe. Our reason to live is not just about survival. It’s about loving, whether it is with a smile, a hug, a touch, the sharing of nourishment, the planting and harvesting, the giving of gifts, the appreciation of art. Our purpose: to find love in all our interactions. God is Love. Death is the vehicle to transition from the here and now as we journey into what is unknown to us. It is not to be feared as we become one with the Spirit.”

Throughout our time together I learn that hope, belief and memory are potent reasons to endure the aching, chaotic space called profound grief. Dan shares, “She visits me periodically. She has focused my spirituality and has given me the greatest gift of all – knowledge about the interconnections of all things and insight into the indivisibility of our Spirit as we journey beyond our mortality. I know. . . that sometime after I pass on I will meet up with her again.”

But until that day, Dan gratefully celebrates the gifts Johanna gives him daily as he moves forward, creating a life beyond suffering: “She gives me the strength to endure, to grow, and energizes my commitment as a physician to care, truly care, for others.”

As always, I wish you the light and love of Grace as you journey forward whether in joy or in sadness.


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