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Death of a Child: Learning to Forgive
My son, J.D. Falk (Jesse David), passed away on November 16, 2011 at age 37 years old from stomach cancer. Throughout his life, I adored him and I found him very challenging.
J.D.’ s family is very diverse. His sister, Alisa, likes to tell people that our family is more diverse than Angelina Jolie’s family! Alisa, his sister by birth, is in a domestic partnership with Issa, from Senegal. He has two sisters by adoption: Amy from Korea, and Leila from India. Leila’s husband, Ndoung, is from Cameroon. Leila’s son, Jordan, from a previous relationship, has a father from Gambia. J.D.’s aunt Chen Huei is from Taiwan. My mother, J.D.’s Bubbi, is from Canada.
J.D. was a very creative and intelligent child. He knew the alphabet by the time he was 18 months old. He couldn’t talk much, although he said “no” quite a lot. But, he could point to the right letter when asked. He was reading by age 4.
Regular schooling didn’t work very well for him. I homeschooled him starting at age 7. We did unschooling, not school at home. He did what he loved to do: writing and doing math (which he had hated in school, but now liked), building amazing Lego buildings, and reading anything he wanted. My father sent him a microscope. My mother sent him a dictionary. When he received the dictionary, he said, “Oh boy! All my life I wanted a dictionary!” We put what he did under school subjects and he got credit for them. He went to public school for junior high and most of high school. In high school, he loved to learn and did extremely well in class discussions and on tests, but he never wanted to turn in any homework.
He loved reading, especially science fiction and fantasy. He hated exercise of any kind and refused to do anything in gym class. He spent one semester in an apprenticeship program in TV and Video with the Montgomery County TV Station in MD, which he loved. After that semester was over, he wanted to continue with the internship. The public school would not allow it. We enrolled him in The Learning Community Network for homeschooling where they gave him gym credit for having walked 1 1/2 miles back and forth to school each day when he had gone to school. They also gave him media and science credit for two internship semesters at the TV station. He graduated from high school with a real diploma from the Learning Community Network, AND he graduated a semester early just from getting credit for all of the interesting things he was into and learning about on his own.
After he graduated, he enrolled in two classes in Montgomery County Community College. Unknown to us, he never showed up! We found out when a teacher called and wondered why he was not coming to class.
A Leader in the Anti-Spam Intelligence Community
He traveled a different road than the average kid, but it worked for him. He accomplished a lot in his life. Even without college, he taught himself so much that he eventually worked for big companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. At the end, he was employed by Return Path as Director of Internet Standards & Governance. He was an influential contributor to the anti-spam intelligence community. J.D. was a leader and member of several key industry organizations such as Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Behind the scenes, he was working hard to keep the internet safe for all of us.
A Falling Out and Cancer
J.D. and I were very close when he was growing up despite the challenges. However, in the last 1 ½ years of his life, we had a falling out regarding something that was happening to a family member. We didn’t agree on how it should be treated. We were not speaking. I emailed him and left messages to talk about it, but he didn’t answer.
He called me in February, 2011, to tell me about his stomach cancer. J.D. did not want to talk about the issue we were at odds about until he had gotten through chemo and gotten rid of the cancer. One day I received an email from him telling me all of the things I had ever done wrong regarding this family member. Some of it was true. Most of it was misinformation and misunderstanding. He did not want to hear my side and said again, that he would deal with it when he was well. I left him alone figuring that he was fighting for his life and he would deal with it when ready.
For a few months, it seemed like J.D. was getting better. But, then in November, 2011, he suddenly took a turn for the worse. Everyone in the family was called to see him and say goodbye, except me. I didn’t know about it until he passed away. He told everyone that he would call me, but he ran out of time.
Learning To Forgive
When I heard that everyone had seen him except me, I was really mad, hurt and very upset. I decided that I would not come to the memorial. Why bother?
I had a big cloud of negativity around me. When people pass over, I can see them and hear them. J.D. kept coming to me, but in anger, I pushed him away.
Finally, I realized that each of us is doing the best we can. If I wanted J.D. to forgive me for anything I ever did, then I needed to forgive him. Each of us does the best we can in any relationship. We don't make mistakes on purpose.
I finally let the anger and negativity go. Afterwards, I felt so unbounded, free, and full of love. My husband, Leagh, said he could see love flowing in me and out of me to the world. J.D. came to me later and I could feel love flowing from him and happiness and love between us. In the end, J.D. had given me a great gift, the gift of being able to forgive. I went to the Memorial which was a great closure.
Love is the Supreme Blessing of Life
If you have someone that you are having difficulties with, call that person today, email, text, whatever. Tell them, “I’m sorry, forgive me, I love you.” Don’t put it off until tomorrow. That may be too late. If we want more love in the world, it needs to start with each of us.
“The ocean of universal love flows in the streams of individual love. Love is the supreme blessing of life. Let our life be full with love, let us love and be loving and spread grace around us”. From “Love and God” by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
More quotes from Love and God
Purchase Love and God from MUM Press
- Love and God | Maharishi University of Management Press
In this precious volume, Maharishi expresses the spontaneous flow of love, gratitude, and devotion arising from the state of supreme Self-Realization.