Happy Birthday – but it almost wasn’t

Roman is 23 today.  I should be helping him celebrate, and I will get to that.

I’m so grateful to God that he is here to see his 23rd, because by all means, I cannot believe that he is.  We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the accident that should have taken his life.

I will never forget the phone call at 6 in the morning, 3 hours after the crash, mind you.  It was the social worker from the hospital, informing me that my son was in the hospital, two chest tubes keeping his lungs working, a cracked chest plate, a broken back.  What?  When did this happen.  Why didn’t anyone call me sooner?  He didn’t want to inconvenience me??  INCONVENIENCE ME??  For the love of God, of course I’m on my way.

I will never forget the fact that he took his first helicopter ride that morning, a 30 mile trek, from the crash site to the hospital.  A helicopter ambulance ride he does not remember.  I look at those medical helicopters with awe now.  They are saving lives up there.  They saved my son’s life.  I have no idea who they were, but they are true heroes in the sky.

I will also never forget the sight of my mini van that he crashed headlong into the side of hill.  The entire engine was smashed like an accordion right up to the wheels.  The windshield stopped and the rest of the car was gone.  No, it wasn’t gone, it was all there, completely smashed.  And how that engine never entered the cabin, I will never know.  The steering wheel and airbag cracked his chest plate, but how in the world did he escape without broken legs?

I loved my Toyota Sienna, and I thank Toyota for building such a strong vehicle.  The guy at the salvage yard, where I had to empty the van of our belongings, could not believe the driver had survived.  People don’t usually walk away from vans in this condition, he said.

There were no skid marks on the road to determine how fast he was travelling on impact.  No skid marks means no brakes were used.

I have no idea how he survived.  But the fact is, he did.  I told him at the time that there was a reason he survived.  We may not know it now, but as life plays out, the reason for his second chance will be revealed.  I’m quite confident of that.

So Happy Birthday, Roman!  It’s truly worth celebrating!

It’s truly a miracle.


A Different Kind of Kid

I find myself thinking alot about Roman and how I could have possibly missed the signs for 20 years.  I wonder if he hadn’t been my first child, if I could have identified it sooner.

I remember experiencing things with my second son that never happened for Roman.  I just figured my kids are different, and Sam was just much more advanced when it came to things like catching a ball, playing organized sports, making friends effortlessly, initiating conversations with me.

Aren’t we told to never compare our kids, that each of us is different in our own special way?  Roman was always a little different.  I just never realized those very differences should have added up to something called Aspergers.

The thing is, Roman is actually gifted.  He always did very well in school, had very good grades. His 3rd grade teacher recognized his giftedness and encouraged us to have him tested and placed in the gifted program.  That was one of the best things we ever did for him.  The gifted classes were smaller and offered a resource room at the high school level where he could “escape” during study hall.

It always frustrated me that he never wanted to be part of the organizations that recognized his giftedness.  He should have been in the National Honor Society.  He enjoyed the AP classes, but when it came time to take tests that could translate into college credit, Roman never took the tests.  And any time there was a chance to be placed on a competition team, Roman wanted no parts of it.  He wanted no parts of being singled out.  He just wanted to blend in.

Even at that, I still find myself thinking and usually crying over the fact that I was always waiting for things to change for Roman.  Maybe I’m still waiting.  But I’m now realizing that they probably won’t.