The four boys and I had a GREAT time last night. Every one of them, even Tony, was appropriate, grateful, kind, obedient, and obviously having a fun time. So, in this case, $100 bought me a very fun night and some super happy kids.
Rand played football last year and he was a great team player. He didn’t spend a lot of time on the football field -- most of it was standing on the sidelines, but it was enough for him. He knew everyone, he felt part of the team, and he was a cheerleader in every sense of the word. His best friend since 5th grade was playing as well, and the whole team was very good to him. He was looking forward to his senior year.
And then his dad got reappointed to a new church. He was going to have to move his senior year. He wasn’t comfortable going to a big school and playing on a new team, so his football career ended after 11th grade. And last night, that team was in the semi finals.
Many of our other children, and I’d venture to say most kids his age, would have been sulking last night. But there he was, in the bleachers, watching his team win the semi finals for the first time in the history of the school. But was he crabby? Was he bitter? Was he angry at the turn of events that messed up everything for him? Not at all. He was in a great mood, he cheered, was thrilled for the team, and even sat with his old tired fat mom. He thanked me over and over again for taking them. He was a delight.
It was obvious when we had to move that Rand was disappointed, but he has never complained. A very spiritually centered young man (sometimes at night I can hear him in his bedroom singing through a hymnal, very off key), he recognized the need for us to follow God, and the bishop’s leading. He has made the best of things, is doing very well in his new school, and is a huge help as our third driver most of the time. I’m so very proud of him.
Chris and Rand had a few things in common. Chris was biracial, so is Rand. Chris was adopted. So was Rand. They were both United Methodist. They both went to the same school. They both genuinely cared about people and tried hard to please others.
But they were different in many ways as well. Chris was incredibly bright while Rand struggles and works very hard to make Bs with Special Ed services. Chris had amazing athletic ability, Rand was content to play a few minutes a season, but spent most of his time on the sidelines. Chris was adopted as an infant. Rand struggled through years of neglect in his birth home, abuse in his foster care placements and an adoption disruption before being placed into our wild family as our eighth child.
Chris was confident and self-assured, full of personality. He was given every opportunity and had the complete devotion of both of his parents from the early months of his life on. Rand was completely traumatized by his early years and had to overcome multiple diagnosis including Panic Disorder, ODD, PDD, and prenatal exposure to at least drugs, most probably alcohol.
Next week we’ll go to the championship game. It will be fun to be around a lot of people who very much made up our lives for the last 7 years. It will be great to see the team play well. But the game will be clouded with the sense that Chris should be on the field and that Rand should be on the sidelines. But I will be sitting there surrounded by Rand and several other sons, maybe even a daughter or two, while Chris’ parents will be grieving the loss of their only child. There is no way to make this seem, in anyone’s mind, fair. And as Bart pointed out at Chris’ funeral, there is no answer to the question, “Why.” All we have to know is that we have a God who walks through life with us even, or especially, when it does not make sense.
Many times I forget to be grateful as our lives are challenging and difficult. But this blog entry, intended to be a tribute to Chris and his awesome parents, as well as to Rand for all he’s becoming, makes me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. A huge thank you to Chris’ parents for raising a terrific young man who will always be remembered as an inspiration to everyone his life ever touched. My heart still goes out to you, all these months later.