Articles from the July 1997 Unification News
Unexpected Single Parenthood - An Interview with Kaarina Jager
by Kasia Stevens-Albuquerque, NM
Nov. 27, 1985. In Albuquerque, New Mexico at Coors Road and Paradise Boulevard, a drunken truck driver killed my husband. My life changed forever when the police came to my door the night before Thanksgiving and told me the terrible news. Shock ran through me. I was alone in a foreign country with my two sons Risun and Austhan, who were one and two years old at the time. In an instant, their precious father became a vague memory and a set of pictures.
I decided to stay in America and not return to my native Finland. With the help of two friends, Marie-Yvonne Carbonneau and Chihei Sawada, I prevailed over that first heart-wrenching year. It would take several years to settle the court cases, to finalize my immigration and to grasp what had happened. I stayed in Roswell, New Mexico (south of Albuquerque) where I felt God had asked me to be. With His help I have been able to educate my sons, give to the community, and work on my teaching certificate. Currently, our elder son is studying in Korea.
I have been a member of the Unification Community for 23 years and was Blessed in 1978 in London. Our Blessing was specifically for the unity of Europe. We started our family in 1981 in New York City and moved to Roswell, NM in August 1984.
Q: Kaarina, thank you for sharing your experiences and insight with us. What do you think was the cause of the accident?
A: It has taken me over 10 years to fully understand the situation, but ultimately, I think Reinhard's family background was a very heavy spiritual burden for us. Reinhard is from Austria and his father was a Nazi. Even today some of his family deny the holocaust and are very antisemitic. In my lineage, the women are controlling. There were also several illegitimate children who were mistreated. These specific sins, as well as the myriads of sins we all encounter in our lineages, created a heavy spiritual burden for us to carry.
This difficult family history and our young marriage in combination with our intense church life kept us from being able to protect Reinhard. Furthermore, before and after Reinhard's death, three quarters of his family died-one right after the other. During that time our family met with several near-fatal accidents and assaults. Thank God we survived! I felt these deaths and attacks were also a result of the heavy sins in the lineage.
All of our negative paths need to be restored even if we are living in difficult situations. Our weapons in the battle of restoration are hope, a positive mind-set, and positive actions towards others. True Father teaches and exemplifies this attitude. Without our church and Divine Principle, I can't imagine how I could have coped. Although there was little understanding or help available from anywhere before Reinhard died, throughout the years after his death, many church members have helped us. I am grateful for True Parents and the Principle as well as for brothers and sisters who have written, called, visited and prayed for us.
Q: What effect did the accident have on your children?
A: They were so small that they do not remember Reinhard, and he hasn't contacted them or me since. They never really knew what it meant to have a father. Surely, they would love to have a Dad with whom to play sports, go fishing and just talk.
Q: How did you deal with the loneliness?
A: I stayed active in my missions of CAUSA, ICC, Tribal Messiahship and now the 3.6 million Couple Blessing. Of course, I also take care of everything financially. First, I fund-raised and then I was a substitute teacher. Soon I will finish my teaching degree. Plus, I keep our sons in school, take care of this old house/center, the car and our dog!
I love to read and watch movies in order to gain insight, and I made several conditions throughout the years. Some of them were quite extensive. The conditions included prayer, study and service to others.
Still, there is some pain, especially when True Father so lovingly talks about the relationship between husband and wife. I certainly wish that we could have spent more time together and been able to share our deepest hearts. I wish also that we could have spent time in Finland and Austria together as a family. I dream about a big banquet for all our relatives with my husband, me, Risun and Austhan in attendance!
Q: What important things did you learn from Reinhard's passing?
A: 1. Don't take your spouse for granted, and don't expect your spouse to do it all. It is so much more rewarding to be able to share your thoughts and everyday life with a substantial person than to try to connect "spiritually". [This is especially true because we hardly knew each other due to the intensity of the mission and the shortness of time.]
2. Get a life insurance policy. [We didn't have one.]
3. Get a life! I have to cultivate my spiritual life, continue my education and work at my mission.
We are products of our family, lineage and national history. If there are serious problems in the lineage and nation, we must exert great effort to make progress. Our family, tribe and nation rises and falls with us. Now I am fighting in the educational arena as a teacher and by being involved in organizations and activities. There is plenty of work to be done!
Q: What process did you go through to learn those lessons and how long did it take?
A: I had no choice but to start learning right away. However, it has taken me years to overcome feelings of betrayal and disappointment, especially since I am left alone to deal with his difficult family. It is only by cultivating a grateful heart that we can protect our immediate and extended family. Our good attitude and actions can hold back the floodgates of judgment against our family and tribes.
I have always maintained communication with my central figures-my spiritual lifeline. I also made conditions of studying the Principle and being active in my community. I have participated in Neighborhood Watch, Crime Prevention Council, Chiefs' Forum, Roswell Historic District, Parent Teacher Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and other volunteer work.
I realized that Reinhard's and my family and similar in some ways, yet his indemnity was really heavy. Before his death, my husband was struggling with many issues. I had to forgive him and his family, which still at times is not easy. I am grateful that Reinhard brought us to America. I am also grateful that Reinhard persevered for four years of our family life and that we were able to have two wonderful sons! Reinhard had been in the church just 13 years.
Q: What were your priorities before the accident and have they changed since then?
A: I always wanted to live for a good cause and to share my life with someone working for the same cause. Now the priorities are the same, but it is much harder! Practical things like plumbing and taking care of the house and car are not my forte. Being a widow for many years, it is much more difficult to witness about the Blessing. Obviously, raising two sons without a husband and father is the biggest challenge. Luckily, my family (especially my father) has been quite supportive.
Q: What would you like to say to others?
A: Get help fast if there are spiritual or physical problems and talk to someone if there are family problems. On the practical side, get a life insurance policy, because you don't need extra financial pressure when you are grieving. We must continue to improve ourselves and help others rather than dwell upon what might have been. Also, appreciate your spouse and be grateful for the good things which happen to you.
Interviewer's note: This article is dedicate in love to all those precious members who have lost their spouses. I am sure each of you has a story to tell and profound lessons to teach. I wish I could have interviewed all of you.
Kaarina is making an album for her children. She is looking for people who knew Reinhard and is hoping that you will send her any pictures, mementos, or thoughts you have of him. Her address is: Kaarina Jager, 205 S. Lea, Roswell NM 88201 or call her at 505-622-5176.
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