Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye Kid, Taylor's words

Continued from Visions, One

When Roma burst on to the scene at our week-long hosting in November, 2001, Taylor, twelve at the time, was caught off guard. We all were. We were accustomed to gentle children who read books and drew intricate pictures and built complicated castles with Lego blocks, children who played quietly in calm, imaginary realms. 

Taylor and Roma 2002
Roma was no such kid. He was loud– his voice was loud, his expressive sound effects for play (usually exploding noises) were louder, his laughter was loudest. He was very active. He was bossy assertive and cocky confident! He didn't sit still long, and if a sport didn't involve a lot of people and a ball of some size or shape, he quickly lost interest. Roma immediately joined clubs at school, before he could speak (or understand) English well, because they might be having fun without him. He didn't want to miss anything! 

As his new family, we were trying to keep up with his high level of maintenance and demand for action and attention. He was not the little brother Taylor had imagined he would be. Taylor had enjoyed the coveted baby-of-the-family role for twelve years. Suddenly his secure realm had been usurped by an independent, confident, and precious little dictator. 

In the past year, and weeks, when Roma thought we were unreasonable about house rules, he would storm to Taylor's apartment in our lower level, threatening us with, "I'm going to talk to Taylor." Taylor would take him for a walk around the block and Roma would come home a little more reflective. Taylor had a calming affect on a 21-year-old who thought he was too old for rules.

Taylor bravely stood at Roma's service on December 14, to honestly share his reflections. Not a sensitive eye remained dry in the church. Many people in attendance have asked him for a copy of his tribute to his brother. So, with his permission, these are Taylor's words . . . 

I’ve been wracking my brain for a good moment from my brother’s life to talk about. He affected so many people in his short life, but I don’t have that one good moment. The truth is I didn’t know him that well.  Most of you knew him better than I did.  I’ve spent this last week trying to get to know him.  And, as awful as this week has been, it’s also been enlightening, getting to know this kid that through fate became my brother.  
We were very different, Roma and I.  He was loud, and he needed people.  I always felt like I thrived in the quiet and solitude.  And he could be frustrating.  I was a very angry young man, and when I made the choice to come down from that, I did so largely by distancing myself from a lot of the things that triggered that aggression.  To a large extent, it worked, but one of the casualties of that decision was Roma.  I didn’t have that sibling relationship I did with my sisters with him.  I remarked recently, before his death, that he only ever called me when he needed something, ignoring the fact that I never once called him.  I didn’t think I needed anything from him. 
Anyways, the moment I landed on to talk about today, may not seem like such a great moment.  Last year, I’d gotten a used snow blower from some friends.  It only needed a belt replaced, but I was proud of myself for fixing it up, and I was looking forward to using it.  We got that one big snowfall last year, and I go out, ready to fire up my snow blower, and I find that the gas can in the garage was empty.  I’d filled it up earlier in preparation for this, and I knew immediately what had happened.  Roma had filled up his car with it.  And it made me angry.  Like, really angry.  And I let him have it. 
And as I thought about what had really upset me, I mean, this was par for the course for Roma, and I’d robbed the gas can before, in high school. I realized that I was angry because I cared.  When I lit into him, it wasn’t for the gas, but what I felt he was doing with his life.  So much potential I thought he was wasting.  I was mad at him because I cared about him, and I was even angrier that I cared. I didn’t want to care about him.  It was much easier when he was just the kid my parent’s adopted, that I wasn’t emotionally invested in.  
But somehow, despite all my efforts and the walls and barriers I erected, he’d slipped in.  He always did, in everyone he met.  And he let everyone in, too.  
This week, as I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of caring that this community has shown in the wake of his death, I’m fully realizing something that I’ve been suspecting for awhile.  Roma had it right.  He was by no means perfect, but he lived every day experiencing everything that came his way.  You can’t cut out the pieces of life that are inconvenient.

For all those years that I never called him just to talk, I’d love one last chance to just call him up, see how he’s doing, and just tell him that he was doing something right, and I’m going to try to live a little more like him.  And that I love him.
Goodbye kid.

Continue with Another Visions of Heaven, the night Roma died. 

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