AFTER RELEASE Ė OUR ADJUSTMENTS
It was August 6, and time for me to head home with my wife, Saundra. However, my release hype first came 2 months earlier when I received a furlough to fly to California. † The night before I didnít sleep. † What if I awoke and they had changed their mind.
Finally morning came and I asked my counselor what restrictions I would have in my travels. †He said, "Just go. You donít have any restrictions." Let's get real! Prison life developed in me a distrust of everything. Just go!! What do you mean? No rigid rules, lights out, red light on, walkódonít run. Come on!
Finally 9 a.m.came and I could hold my wife. I have never felt such peace as that day. My body seemed to float in the clouds with the softness of feathers on my flesh. She had stood by me during my confinement. Our life was full of happiness that day and we could only think of the days left until my final release.
When we arrived at the airport I could see all the confusion Ė people rushing, and everyone seeming to go in different directions. How unorganized! I found myself taking a seat away from everyone. I held onto Saundra every minute with the exception of her using the ladies roomóand then I really wanted to go along.
While in prison I made adjustments, and felt comfortable with the inmates, with God, and my visits with Saundra and family. I actually felt close to the inmates because of the years we had spent together trying to do our time. Inmates credit inmates who do their time well and donít act like babies during the process. † Itís hard to explain but the feeling of loving my fellow beings was so easy in prison. Every color, race, religion, etc. is in prison and everyone lives in close harmony. I could reconcile the five-day furlough by knowing that I would return to the troops before long.
Time had finally come for my final release and again to greet my wonderful wife. As I walked toward the gate I couldnít walk fast enough. I was processed and ready to leave, but where was Saundra? I perceived her as being late as I waited with my boxes. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as I waited with guards standing around me. Finally I saw her car and my heart jumped for joy as I took my place next to her Ė a free man.
Iím not sure about the euphoria that drugs provide, but I had the most wonderful feeling of all my troubles passing at that moment. We could start our life again. I had Saundra and that is all I would need.
At the halfway house I was still in a semi-prison with all of the restrictions and visiting hours. † I had it better than most because I was going to work for my wife and that would mean I would see her every day.
When I went to work at the convenience store I remained outside working with the lawn, weeds, pumps, and picking up trash. Soon, I was required to start meeting customers as a cashier. How could I be kind to these people who didnít do anything for me when our family was in pain? Then I thought, they really did reach out because they have been Saundraís customers all of the time I had been in prison. As I worked I could feel the warmth of the customers as I would tell them that I was just released from prison. None of them seemed to mind. Finally, I could even joke about my confinement.
Our life was beginning to take meaning as friends would call and ask us to attend their church the next Sunday. As we traveled to church with various friends, I began to understand that people want everyone to be happy. I'm glad I am adding to their happiness by accepting my life with God and telling them that even prison is a journey that God has chosen for me to take.
My life is better now with our family settling in and the public accepting our family as neighbors. † I have never felt such a need for love of others while still being cautious. It seems that I crave love like others crave candy.
My life is different now with a family intact, friends nearby, and God by our side. My life will not return as it was before imprisonment, but no oneís life stays the same. Time changes our mental, physical and spiritual being. It is our job to work toward making the change positive and accepting where we have been. Our journey has been one of success and failures, but always with God. Our remaining journey will continue to be with God and our life will be healthier and happier because of our experiences, including prison.
We had waited for Bobís release for years. When he finally received word that he would be released on August 6th, it was almost unbelievable that the time had finally arrived. I got his "new" clothes ready to be mailed to him at the prison. He had lost so much weight during his incarceration that I was afraid the clothes I had bought would not fit him. I could hardly wait to see him in street clothes and to forever get rid of the khakis. † Never again would I buy him anything in that color.
I arrived at the prison 15 minutes early, and was startled to see Bob standing at the curb with the guards waiting for me to arrive. I could have cried for him as I watched him standing there, and hoped he didnít think I wasn't excited about his coming home. It was my constant prayer that we would remain in good health until we were finally able to be together again. He looked WONDERFUL, and I thanked God for this beautiful day.
I felt some apprehension for him. He was going back to the city where all of our troubles started. However, Bob has a very strong personality and can handle whatever life sends his way. I love that about him but I could not help but feel protective of him. I guess the "mother" in me was going to see that no one would hurt him again.
It was wonderful to have Bob so close to home again. The halfway house was in the same city as my convenience store. Bob was to work at the store during his time in halfway. My customers were eager to meet him. Many knew our situation because of the enormous publicity our case received during our indictment, trial and eventual incarceration. We always were open with our charges, and will discuss our case and prison life with anyone.
On November 4, Bob was allowed home confinement and we had to learn to live together again. After 38 years of marriage, our basic habits had not changed that much. However, Bob had learned to live with 500 men and I had learned to live alone. Some of the more difficult adjustments for me were what would seem to be the small things: learning to share the bathroom again, watching what I wanted to watch on TV, having control of the remote, setting the volume where I wanted it, spending the amount of time I wanted on the computer instead of sharing my time.
Laundry and cooking are now again for two. In all of our married years, Bob had never complained about my cooking and I knew he would not care what I fixed now. That, however, was not to be the case. He had deliberately learned to eat more healthy foods and was concerned about nutrition. I, on the other hand, had grown careless about my diet and many times did not eat anything or perhaps a cookie or two. Cooking for one was not what I enjoyed and I rarely sat at the table to eat because my loneliness seemed to settle in the pit of my stomach. Since Bob is home I am learning to cook all over again and the end result is much better for both of us.
Settling into a routine was one I had yearned for, and not that difficult. Unless one has been through very difficult times, one cannot understand how important life is. I am not sure I would have ever appreciated Bob as much as I do each and every day. † I thank God for having him home again when I watch him mowing the lawn, asleep in his recliner, opening a jar for me, helping my parents with their house and little repairs, being there for our adult children when life throws them a curve, playing with the dogs Ė all of the simple but wonderful things we all take for granted until it is taken from us. † I ask God every day to bless the days we have left together and to keep us aware of how much we truly have. I am so grateful that God has brought us to this point.
Our marriage has grown stronger through all of our difficult times and we have had many. When we were young and naive, we stood before God at the altar reciting our marriage vows which were really just words to us at that time. We did not realize what "for better, for worse, -- for richer, for poorer", really meant.
With the help of God, our new lives have begun. I believe it is part of Godís plan for us to be there to help others through their difficult times by reminding them that after every storm there is sunshine, and a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, if we will just allow God to show us it IS there.