Archive for May 4th, 2011


lifetime commitment

Last night I called Derek to wish him a happy birthday. Today he is 23. I also conveyed Alex’s birthday greetings.

My timing was perfect because he’d just returned home from a church service where he operates the sound system. The work that’s taken center stage in his life is the youth group in his church. He treats it like his full-time job, even though he holds down two part-time jobs with landscaping firms to make ends meet.

The church youth group is the main trunk of his flourishing social life. Derek is happy.

Derek is taking a couple classes at a nearby junior college where he has decided to major in public relations. I think it is a good choice for him. He is an excellent communicator and is already being invited to schools and other places where he has been asked to share what he calls his “testimony.” These speaking gigs are helping him to think more deeply into his life, the choices he has made along the way, and where he is taking his future.

“I still have a lot of things to work through,” he said. He is currently researching the lifetime effects of childhood abandonment—not as a way of justifying past deeds, but as a way of understanding them and intentionally living a desired future.

I took the opportunity to remind him that I will be here for him for as long as I’m alive, which I now believe will be a longer time than I’d previously believed. “Aw, I already know that,” he replied in a tone of voice that suggested I was guilty again of stating the obvious. But I could tell he appreciated it nevertheless.

He asked how things were going for Alex, and I was sorry to report that Alex seems to have been abandoned by most of his old support network. “I’ve been feeling like the last man standing. Everyone else has a good reason for not being able to help, but to me it feels like Alex is being left hanging—kind of like ‘you had your chance and screwed up, you’re on your own now.’ Right now we’re in the hands of public defenders in Pensacola and Okeechobee, and they don’t even return my phone calls or e-mails,” I said. “Without a bucket of money I’m having a devil of a time finding Alex competent counsel.”

Derek seemed disappointed but not surprised. Having been raised in the foster care and juvenile detention systems, Derek has been conditioned not to expect much from the system.

Alex doesn’t expect much either, and asks for little.

(I’ve just written these words and the phone has rung. It is an attorney from Pensacola who had been recommended to me by a US Attorney. This man has done enough research to know what we are up against. He has even lined up potential co-counsel in South Florida. He says he will visit Alex today and get back to me with a decision about whether he will take the case.)

Keep your fingers crossed and please be prepared to help if he and his colleague need our help. We must keep Alex out of detention if he is to be allowed to continue making a positive life for himself. He had been doing so well—so perfectly—until this. A traffic accident and a moment of panic must not be allowed to return Alex to prison.


Groove of the Day

Listen to the Song Spinners performing “Comin’ In On a Wing and a Prayer”