Monday, April 11, 2016


Continued from Succumbing to Hope

About three weeks into Roma's homecoming, a close friend was visiting and asked how our reunion with Roma was going. She had been by my side for the challenges of the past few years. She knew I had some trepidation about his return, fearful the pattern of coming and going, of hope and disappointment would repeat itself. I told her how his last six months away from the family had seemed to matured him, that I was more hopeful this time, and how well he was doing.When I said he was working on roofs, she grimaced. 

"You know that is a very dangerous job." She watched me closely to insure I was listening carefully to her warning.  "An astounding number of people die falling from ladders."

Her husband is a builder, and she works in the business end of the construction industry, so she knows well the dangers of the trade. 

 I was stunned. I had never considered Roma's life being at risk on the job. He had made plenty of bad choices with his free time, but I considered him safe at work. My shoulders slumped as I considered this new risk. But my friend, who had watched strong-willed Roma grow up next door, and I both knew I had no power to influence him. But I was suddenly obsessed with his safety.

"Roma, you need to find another job," I told him the next drive to work. "Working on roofs is a very dangerous job."

"Mom, don't be negative. I'm learning a  lot, and making money. My boss is going to South Carolina for a few weeks in the winter, so I'll probably have to get another job then. But I'm fine for now," he tried to quell my fears. Maybe I was overreacting.  

 A few days later on our morning drive to work, Roma was tying his shoelaces on his boots when I heard one snap. 

"Roma!" I said, louder than I intended. "You can't climb a ladder with broken shoelaces. You'll trip."

"Mom, chill," Roma almost yelled back. "You know how superstitious I am. Now I probably will fall."

"No, don't say that." I tried to calm us both. "Tie the ends together well, and tuck them into your boot. And be very careful!" 

I had to stop my negative thoughts. All the past months I was able to hand Roma over to God for His protection. I was able to put aside worry. Now that he was home and seemed to be doing well, finally, why couldn't I stop fretting about him. Did I truly believe what I claimed to believe about God's providential Power? I wasn't proving to be a very credible witness! I had to lay Roma down, and trust God, again.  

But the niggling worry didn't subside. Stubborn Roma! I should have used the reverse psychology that so often worked on him by telling him I thought roofing was the perfect job for him, that was the best he could do. That would have raised his hackles, and he would have proven me wrong. 

Strong-willed boy!  A year earlier, he had fought me for control over every aspect of his life. I had remained calm, remembering Roma had always been God's boy and if I worried, it meant I didn't trust God. Like Abraham had laid his cherished son Isaac as God had demanded, I had laid my cherished son Roma down before God, again, and again, realizing I had no power to make him do what I wanted, or to act in his best interest. I finally told him what should have been a relief for him. I said, "Roma, you can live your life your way. I will no longer have any expectations of you."

He looked at me with obvious sadness and said, "Mom, that is mean."

I knew my resignation would trouble Roma. But he couldn't have it both ways. He thrived on my high, and reasonable in light of his many talents, expectations of him. If he insisted on doing life his way, he would fail.  I wanted him to understand my reluctant surrender. 

One night Roma and I were talking about his stagnant car fund. He was borrowing back as much as he was contributing. He was sitting at the kitchen table and I was giving him some solid financial advice.

"Mom," (he always started his contemplative comments with "Mom," maybe to get my attention.) "Why do I need to save money?" His remark alarmed me a bit. Was he sliding back into irresponsible behavior? 

I explained the obvious, that everyone needs to get into a habit of not spending every penny they make. That we all need a reserve, in case of emergencies. Somehow his query made my heart ache.  Roma was an innocent. Almost "otherworldly." Would he ever get it? He just wanted to play ball and hang out with his friends. He didn't even notice when someone didn't like him or disrespected him.  Roma wasn't capable of being offended. If he got angry with his family or with a friend, he reached out quickly to apologize and make peace again. 

The next day after delivering him to his destination, I was praying for him in my darken War Room, named so after seeing the first ads of the movie by the same name. I wanted him to save his money. I wanted him to consider going back to school. I wanted him to find a new job. I wanted him to be a functioning member of society.  I wanted him to have more discussions with his sister Liana, as much for her broken heart as for his. After the first conversation on the last days of 2014, Roma seemed satisfied to have discovered Liana was alive and happy, with two sons of her own. But she seemed so distant from his seven-year-old memory, as if he had swam to safety on one side of the divide, as she faded in recession on the other side. He never expected to encounter her again, and he had to learn to live with that loss. Otherwise, he would be stuck, treading water in a vast emptiness. Currently, she might as well have been living on Mars, for the translating and awkwardness he felt was a barrier far too insurmountable. I pleaded with him, but he put me off every time I mentioned it. 

"Mom, I'm too emotional about it right now. I can't think about it today. One day, I promise, we will go visit. One day."

I could hardly force him, although my heart ached for sister Liana, and aunt Lia, and eager cousins who I had grown to love. For now, he seemed too satisfied to just play football, or basketball, and to hang out with friends, and work on roofs to fund those simple joys.

There in my War Room, failing to be still and knowing God is God, I fretted about God's most surprising and cherished Gift--Roma. 

''What will become of Roma?" I asked God aloud in my dark prayer closet. Suddenly I had a startling thought. Almost a picture.  A quick movement. Was it a vision? Although I sat on an ottoman in complete darkness, I saw, or imagined Roma falling from a tall ladder. And he was gone. Dead.  The image reduced me to sobs. 

"How could I ever live without dear Roma?" I asked the universe.

I immediately chided myself for my vivid imagination. That's all it was, right? I had to stop being negative. 

Continue with Be Still, My Heart

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