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Mysterious Ways: An Assist from a Stranger

For five years, the notebook kept her connected to her departed daughter, and to God. Now it was gone.

An artist's rendering of Toshi's journal
Credit: Alamy

I’d moved all over the world in my life’s journey—from Japan, where I was born, to Brazil, where I was raised, and finally here to California. I’ve been on a spiritual journey as well—always curious about the mysteries of the world.

But when my daughter, Gabriella, died of cancer at age 28, my faith in God was shaken. I only began to find it again through studying and teaching Reiki, a Japanese healing art similar to the laying on of hands.

To help me with my grief, I began to write my deepest thoughts and reflections, how the Lord comforted me, in a little black notebook. I wrote in Portuguese, the language I felt most myself in.

For five years, the notebook kept me connected to Gabriella, and to God. Then somehow, on a flight from Los Angeles to San Jose, it disappeared. Did it fall out of my purse? Did I leave it on the plane?

I called the airline. The flight crew hadn’t picked it up. No one had turned it in at the airport lost-and-found either.

I hung up, trying not to cry. I pictured the pages of scribbled Portuguese. Even if someone found the notebook, they wouldn’t understand what I’d written. I hadn’t put my name or address in it because it rarely left my side. Now it was gone forever, just like my Gabriella.

A week later I heard from a former student of mine in Brazil. He forwarded me an odd e-mail he’d received.

“You don’t know me,” the message began, “but I was going from Portland to Las Vegas and changed planes in San Jose. On the new plane, I switched seats three times until I found one I liked, something I normally don’t do.

“I looked at my feet and saw a small black book on the floor. The writing was in Portuguese, my first language, so I started to read. It belonged to someone who had lost a daughter, and I knew it must be very important.

“I found a scrap of paper in it with your e-mail. Do you have any idea whose book this is?”

Why was my student’s address in my notebook? How did someone who could understand my words come across it? All I can say is, the book is back where it belongs, the greatest comfort I could’ve been given, from the greatest Comforter of all.


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