Last March I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I had become involved in a project for Uganda through an organization called A Thing For Another (AT4A.) Helping others was part of my healing process. I felt capable. It was also a way for me to give back. So many had reached out to me in my darkest hours.
A Thing For Another was helping to support orphaned children in Uganda whom the Director, Jamie Macari, personally met while coaching a wrestling team in Africa. He came home changed, compelled to do something about the needs he saw abroad. I had that same drive in me, and quite frankly, when I was married, helping others together was the one area we always agreed on.
The kids at the RUHU (Rising Up Hope, Uganda) orphanage that AT4A supported had been moved from place to place. They found a piece of land that would hold them all and then some. A plot of land could put an end to their constant upheaval, provide stability, but how would we raise the funds?
That was where my idea came into play. I made a connection. I had a spare room in my house, and this group of kids needed land. If I could rent out my spare room, in less than two years that one act alone could pay for the cost of the land in Uganda. I was excited. To think that a small room that fit one in Canada could be used to purchase land that would house 100, lit a fire under my feet. The next day I posted an ad on Kijiji to rent my room and fund a dream.
The lady who moved in with my daughter and I was the first individual to live with us since the passing of my husband. She quickly became a part of our home. I enjoyed having someone else in our space again. I liked knowing that at the end of every night someone would be coming home. We seemed to have a lot in common. My daughter and I fell in love fast with our new housemate. Two weeks later, an odd comment was made. “My skin is really itchy,” she complained. “I’m getting headaches and I can’t sleep. I think it’s the asbestos in your house.”
“I’m pretty sure I don’t have asbestos in my house but I’ll have someone come by to have a look.”
I emailed a contractor that night. I went to bed thinking the comment seemed strange, but didn’t give it much weight knowing the situation would be inspected and anything real would be addressed.
Asbestos was a type of insulation that hadn’t been used in houses for 30 years. My house was only 10 years old. Never-the-less, the next day the contractor said he would come have a look. Before he had a chance though, my roommate was gone. That was the beginning of a long and tiresome six month journey that saw the involvement of the police and ended with me receiving a registered letter from the courts with a claim filed against me.
How could this be happening? It wasn’t right. I had done nothing wrong. As soon as she thought there was an issue I tried to bring in an expert but was never given the chance. Then, suddenly, she was gone and I was the one being accused?
My nerves were worn thin. During a public discussion at work one day, a venue and task I was accustomed to, even thrived in, my cheeks began to quiver during a simple question. That was when I knew the ordeal had taken its toll. It was not just the loss of funds that could have been raised for the land in Uganda, that upset me. It was the fact that my daughter and I attached ourselves so very quickly to her, and then we were abandoned. It was the fact that there was conflict, unresolved, with no reasonable way to work it out. The situation was all too familiar. I was angry feeling left to figure out how to tell my toddler another adult had disappeared. I was absurdly terrified, triggered by the last conflict I had with anyone which ended with that person taking their life.
I remembered the day the registered letter came from the courts with her argument. Surprisingly I felt relief. It meant there would be a form of guided dialogue. Closure. I submitted my counter argument, a court date was set, and I waited.
Months passed. The scheduled date was now ten days away. I checked the mail after work today and the first piece I noticed was a handwritten envelop from her. On the front she wrote, “Claim cancelled. Court cancelled.”
Miracle of miracles. Could it be? I called the court house to confirm. “Yes, we have a record of her withdrawal here. You don’t need to come to court. It’s over.”
Perhaps sometimes justice prevails after all.