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 didn’t 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 don’t 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, walk—don’t 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 – 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 room—and 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 don’t act like babies during the process. It’s 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 couldn’t 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 – a free man.
I’m 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 didn’t do anything for me when our family was in pain? Then I thought, they really did reach out because they have been Saundra’s 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 one’s 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.