The following piece is authored by one of my best and brightest students, I have had the pleasure of working with during my 19 plus years at Utica University. Her stepfather John had asked that I meet with her as an incoming transfer student to provide some advice or guidance. Upon meeting Kali Regan, she presented me with her two-year plan to obtain her undergraduate degree in psychology. To say that I was impressed with her intelligence and analytical and critical thinking skills, would be an understatement. To date, she is in the top 1% of students I have taught at the undergraduate level. I am humbled that she acknowledged the impact she perceives I had on her and her perceptions of life, death and life after death. The impact that she and my other students have had on me has been profound. Within every student, is a great teacher. Enjoy the reflections in Kali Regan’s first published article titled, Black and White Thinking. Dave Roberts
Kali’s father Denny Regan
Dave Roberts could not have said it better when he said, “We don’t meet people by chance, that they are meant to come into our lives for a reason.”
My stepfather, John, always had a way of carefully placing what I needed right in front of me for me to take advantage of if I deemed it fit and necessary, as he knew there was a reason I needed to talk with Dave. When John introduced me to Dave, I think instantly he felt like family to me. I was quickly drawn to Dave’s style of writing, his love for life and his work, and incredibly fascinated with his perspective of grief and loss.
I, too, had encountered a great deal of loss. Spring break of my 7th grade year of middle school, I lost my father after a battle with epilepsy, after he suffered from a grand mal seizure. Losing my father at 12 years old put this weight on me that I could not bear.
I could not embrace that my life was imperfect causing so much dissonance impacting my psyche and beliefs every day. Every issue that ever came up just made me long for connection with my father and I did not know how. I spent a lot of time in the decade following questioning my thoughts and beliefs toward religion, spirituality, and any possible way I could connect with my dad. I just always thought; how could I possibly make sense of the tragedy I endured?
Shortly after meeting Dave, I reflected on my own journey with grief thus far. I shoved everything deep down so much that it was radiating from my aura and knew Dave could sense the pressure I put on myself to control the world around me because I could not control the pain I felt from the tragedy I endured.
My father was gone from me physically, and that to me meant he was gone from every aspect of life. I was afraid of people forgetting about him, that I would forget about him. As I delved deeper into the story of Dave losing his daughter, Jeannine, I had a more intricate understanding of his journey after the fact. Through this, I was able to indulge in a reformed way of thinking about grief, and how to live your life after losing one of the most important people in it.
Throughout my time knowing Dave, I often find myself writing down quotes he says to me, or I read that I wanted to remember. In a piece he once wrote, he said, “the tapestry of beauty is woven from the fabric of tragedy.” From there, I knew my connection with my father could only be furthered, and knew the importance of my loss, both positive and negative impacts it had on me.
The ability to self-reflect and integrate a number of perspectives and means of connection into my ever changing beliefs allows me each day to gain more clarity in a world where that does not come easy. Dave was the first person I knew who endured pure tragedy and loss, and channeled that toward bettering himself and developing a greater cognizance of the universe.
When Reverend Patty Furino and Dave collaborated and shared their story it sounded all too familiar. The influence Patty had in Dave’s life has created a rolling effect. As Patty opened Dave’s eyes amongst many others to a new worldview, Dave did the same to me. By sharing their story through When The Psychology Professor Met The Minister, the magnitude of their impact on how others grieve and connect will be infinite. To be guided by Dave, Patty, and their experiences is to transition beyond your experiences —to be empowered.
I mentioned how my stepfather John always had a way of giving me opportunities to explore the world and form my own beliefs (if I so chose). The world today and everyday always needs more tolerance and acceptance, allowing us to understand the beliefs of others while constantly developing our own.
Today, and everyday black and white thinking can only exist amongst a plentiful array of grays. Death does not have to mean someone is entirely gone from us in any sense, just our medium of communication must shift. Connection can exist in a myriad of ways if we allow ourselves to explore outside the norm.
Kali is a Utica University, formerly Utica College alumni with her Bachelors in Psychology, living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her passion for mental health advocacy along with neuroscience drove her to a career in alternative medicine, specifically neurofeedback therapy. As the executive director of MyBrain DR, Kali empowers others in recovery to think beyond the traditional expectations of mental health care. She is nothing without her other half, rescue pup London, and her love for spending time traveling to visit family and friends all over.