Nine years ago today, our son was born. Three days later, he died in my arms.
Reflecting on my life as it is now, it is hard to imagine being the father of a nine-year-old boy. Yet it is equally hard to imagine my life without this experience of both loving and letting him go.
Two important men in my life passed away recently. My maternal grandfather showed his love for his family by working hard to lift us up from his agrarian pioneer roots in New Mexico to establish a more prosperous and secure lifestyle for his descendants. My dear spiritual teacher John-Roger dedicated his life to loving and uplifting others, and attracted a like-minded community of people dedicated to using everything in their life to learn and grow.
As much as my own parents gave to me from the depths of their hearts, it is also this greater “village” that helped to raise me into who I am. The hallmarks of this form of parenting were unconditional love and selfless service.
Nine years on, it is not so much the grief at letting go of the opportunity to parent my own son, as it is this great impulse of love, and a desire to pass forward all I have been given in my own life, that remains strong with me. I look to that greater “village” for examples of how to love and serve within this lineage.
The truth is that there are children in need of love all around me. Not only my adorable nephew, with whom I had the pleasure of celebrating his fifth birthday in Australia recently, but also the beautiful childlike nature within those adults I hold dear to me, such as my wife.
There are also those adults whose childlike nature is less obvious, yet they are in no less need of love–the anxious children living inside the stressed-out senior executives I coach, the disheartened children within the grumpy commuters crammed together on a London-bound train, and the countless frightened and lonely children asking for change on the street, whose adult appearances belie their true vulnerability.
This is a world in need of love. It was in love that our son was brought forward, and it was with great love that we said goodbye. Yet the love did not stop, nor would I want it to, nor do I believe our son would want me to stop loving just because he is gone.
So, on this day, I will take courage to go on sharing it, in simple ways both subtle and direct–as a testament to love, its continuity, constancy, and sufficiency as well as its ability to transcend one form into another, yet remain.
Thank you, my son, for the gift of your life and the gift of love. I will do my best to pass it on.