With the sudden construction-related death June 30 of Ryan Romines, it might seem difficult for his widow, Melissa Romines, to be grateful — but she is doing her best.
The biological mother of four — and stepmother to Ryan’s own four children — is moving ahead, one day at a time, thankful for her church, friends, family members — and answered prayers — as she navigates a life without her husband and partner of nearly six years.
“We crammed more living into those years than most experience in their lifetimes,” Melissa said. “He was my love and my life, and the pain of losing him is almost unbearable.
“I miss him, but I know I have to carry on, and continue his legacy.
“Right now, most of the time, I’m in between being OK and panicking,” she added, speaking from the family’s North Knoxville home, which they are trading in for an apartment back in Farragut later this month.
“When we found (this) house, I was thrilled because it gave us so much more room, but it needs a lot of work that Ryan (a self-employed handyman/construction worker) had planned to do.
“I can’t do it, and now we really need to be back in Farragut.”
Their community ties have remained strong, even after moving out of the area two years ago. Melissa’s oldest son, Rome, will be a Farragut High School senior this fall, and her daughter, Kalani, attends Concord Christian School.
Younger sons, Cruz and Logan had previously been homeschooled, but Melissa, employed as a cardiac sonographer at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, already planned for them to attend school this fall.
Ryan’s children, Luke, Averi, Sydney and Audrey, were with the couple half time, and attended school elsewhere.
“We divided and conquered,” Melissa said of the couple’s sometimes hectic parenting schedule, made easier last year when Ryan adopted her children after their father’s parental rights were terminated.
Both had been through difficult divorces when they met, but bonded over many things, including their number of children.
“The day after our first date, he told friends he had found a family,” Melissa recalled. “He had been through a lot, and lost a lot, but he was so grateful, every day, even for those loses. He loved so much and so freely. To him, blood didn’t matter — there was just family.”
She described him “as the fun parent who lived for road trips. He was also very wise and very forgiving. I learned so much from him, and I keep on learning, even now.”
In the days leading up to Ryan’s funeral, Melissa found a hand-written transcription of II Corinthians 12: 9-10 in his Bible.
“He was my spiritual leader — he knew more about the Bible than anyone I know,” she said. “Even on the day of his passing, he was sending me verses to live by.”
She is keeping the faith Ryan instilled in their family in other ways, including remaining constant with one special daily habit.
“Ryan and I would always name one thing we were grateful for each day,” she recalled on a Facebook post she shared. “Today I’m grateful for a multitude of family and friends who are literally prodding me along when all I want to do is give up,” she said. “When I never thought I was enough, God is showing me quite the opposite.”
The family also is drawing strength from their Park West Church family, too.
“They have been amazing,” Melissa said. “They have rallied around us since Ryan died, and they offered to help us any way they can.”
Melissa’s co-workers also donated “use it or lose it” vacation” time to her, allowing her to spend time with her children, as well as packing and moving over the next few weeks.
Family friend Kay Leemon has organized a Go Fund Me account for the Romines as they go through this difficult time, which can be accessed at https://gofund.me/a063d895.
Melissa said she not only misses Ryan, she misses her four “bonus children,” whom she has seen very little since their father’s death.
“I didn’t just lose a husband, we lost half of our family,” she said.
“The only thing keeping me going is Jesus.”