by Diane S.
This journey is going to be a long one, we are just beginning.
May 5, 2015 was the hardest day of my life to date, but the 6 days since haven’t been easy. They have been filled with prayer, constant prayer. Prayer for my husband, my step-son, myself, my marriage, my mother-in-law. We had a good bit of information about what was going to happen on this day. We “knew” what to expect but quickly found out that even if you expect it you surely aren’t prepared for it. Nothing can prepare you to say goodbye to your husband for eight and a half years and drive away from a federal prison facility leaving him there.
God was with us, there is no doubt, but the heartache and pain are no joke. That is real raw emotion that I’m not sure anyone could ever be prepared for. We stopped a few blocks from the prison on the side of the road and prayed together and I truly believe that is how we all made it through the next hour.
There isn’t an instruction manual on how one goes about self-surrendering. There are no signs pointing you to the correct door once you arrive, you just kind of guess. We guessed right and were in the right place. My husband, myself, his mother and her sister walked into the institution and were greeted with a friendly, “May I help you?” The gentleman at the desk was nice to us. He told us to have a seat and someone would be out to get him shortly.
True to his word, it wasn’t long and a correctional officer appeared to take him back. He asked about the things we were told he could keep. We thought he could keep a cheap digital watch, but that wasn’t the case so he took it off and handed it to me. He was able to take his Bible, his glasses, his wedding ring, a bookmark, and a piece of paper with 3 phone numbers on it. The officer told us to say our goodbyes. I was first and he took my hand and told me he wanted me last, so I stepped aside to let him say goodbye to his mom and aunt.
Then it was my turn.
I don’t really remember what was said other than “I love you”, over and over. There are no words to describe the pain you feel when you know you are hugging your husband in freedom for the last time for 8 and a half years.
It was time.
They took him away through a metal detector, out a door and down a sidewalk. I watched him all the way until he stepped through the door of what I assume was the intake part of the facility.
And he was gone.
I could see his face right before he stepped through the door and I don’t think he was crying. I sure was, but he looked composed. The officer informed us that if we would wait a little bit he would bring out his clothes and shoes.
Here is the good stuff.
This is when God gave me some desperately needed ‘bread crumbs’ on that day. We sat in the chairs in the lobby waiting, observing. It was a clean place, it looked well kept and it seemed organized. It’s not what I pictured the lobby of a jail to look like. There were windows and much more light than I expected. As we were sitting, there was gentleman standing over to one side of the room. I don’t know who he was or what he was doing there, but I do know that God put him there at that time. He asked us how long he would be there and we said 10 years to which he replied he will do about 8 and a half years (we did know that). He told us he will be fine, just tell him to get busy with church things and education things and the time will pass. Then for no reason I can think of other than it had been a topic of prayer for all of us there that day, this man told us at least we didn’t have to worry about him eating because the food there was pretty good, much better than other prisons.
Now that may seem like a very insignificant thing but it wasn’t for us. We were (still am) concerned about what he will eat, I have never met a more picky eater than my husband so it’s a legitimate concern of mine, probably a silly one all things considered, but still. A few minutes after our conversation ended with that man we were asked to step outside for a few minutes while they did something, maybe a prisoner transfer? Not quite sure. While we were standing outside a nice lady walked up to the door and it was locked. She asked us what we were waiting on and we told her my husband clothes. She asked his name & we obliged. She said, “Oh, I should have him in a few hours and for a couple of days, don’t you worry about him. He is going to be ok.”
Again, there is only one reason for something like that to happen. God was showing us he was there. It wasn’t long and the officer that took my husband back came out with his clothes in a clear plastic bag. He was getting off work so we all happened to walk to the parking lot and he said to us, “Don’t worry, he is going to be ok. We had a talk, he is going to be ok, I can just tell he’s going to do fine. You don’t have to worry.” He may say that to everyone he returns belongings to, I really don’t know. However, on that day, it was another ‘bread crumb’.
You probably think that the ride home was unbearable, but it wasn’t.
God gave us a peace in that car for that 2.5 hour ride home. Not one of the three us cried until we were exactly 13 miles from his aunt’s house and ‘God Gave Me You’ came on the radio. That song has always made me think about my husband and it made me cry, but when I looked out the window of the car a random rainbow in the sky made me smile. It was like God put it right there just for me. I’m not saying there weren’t many tears shed later into the night, but that ride home was peaceful. The kind of peace that only comes from Jesus.
A Note From Tony: Amen! I am so encouraged by this woman’s reliance on, and trust in, God. Curiosity got the best of me, so I looked for that song. In case anyone else is curious, I have provided a version of it here. Enjoy.
I have exchanged emails with our guest author and asked her what names I should use. She never even considered that there were no names used. It was not an intentional omission. She simply didn’t think about it until I mentioned it and she has given permission to use first names for now. Her name is Diane. Her husband is Chris.
Women named Diane seem to figure prominently in my life, but this one is not to be confused with the one who has done so much for me through my incarceration, and continuing to this day. I am inclined to think that this ‘new’ Diane will ultimately figure prominently as well as she helps us all to try and understand America’s Culture Of Incarceration from the perspective of the victims of the punishment of the crime, rather than of the crime itself.
This is not to diminish the pain, loss, and suffering of the victims of those crimes, whatever those crimes may be. I have never, ever done that in all the years of “TOC” and I never will. It should, however, be important to society as a whole to examine the effects of this country’s policies and practices on everyone involved and weigh all of those factors when determining our national approach to a solution.
At present, what we have is not a solution. It is an overblown, overgrown industrial enterprise of behemoth proportions which helps no one (except those involved financially) and solves nothing. It doesn’t truly help the victims in most cases. It doesn’t help society at all, really, because the causes are never substantially or effectively addressed. It doesn’t help those who violate society’s laws (which are far too numerous in the first place).
And it most certainly does not help the families of those who have been left behind in any way, shape or form. In many, many cases entire families, and especially spouses, are treated as being equally guilty.
By all means, please leave your comments of encouragement for Diane. In today’s world, far too many women are a lot closer to ‘being’ Diane than we should all be comfortable with.
Lastly, I would like to mention that there is a woman who has followed TOC through the years whose husband was also in federal prison. Many of you may be interested in Kate Mest’s blog. Please visit and offer her encouragement.