by Diane S. Written: June 16, 2015
Another heart breaking good-bye.
Another long drive home with entirely too much time to think.
Another terrible night and day of complete brokenness.
Will it ever get easier? Part of me wants to believe that it will; part of me believes it never will. It was Thursday after the weekend of my first visit before I began to function as a somewhat normal human. This week it’s Tuesday and I am functioning (mostly) again. Sunday night was awful, Monday until about mid-afternoon was terrible and then the despair started lifting a little. After sleeping for 12 hours last night I feel much more capable of handling this day.
So maybe it will get easier. I’ll pray for that. It may get easier but it will never be right; leaving him there isn’t right.
It will never be right and it will never be ok.
Visit two was…interesting. It was raining on Saturday morning when we had to get in line. There is no cover and you stand outside in the rain. The BOP gets in no hurry to process visitors to help get them out of the rain. You stand and wait, just like on a sunny day. I was completely ill-prepared and we didn’t have umbrellas. Luckily I am from the south and we improvise pretty well so we bought a box of trash bags at the last gas station before you turn onto East Whatley road and made our own ponchos.
This brought on the first of two meltdowns of my 12 year old. He was absolutely adamant that he was not going to wear a trash bag with a hole ripped out for his face to keep him from getting wet. He didn’t want to look stupid. He lost that argument and a small meltdown ensued. Luckily my mother-in-law was there with me and she is wonderful at calming him down. It never got to crisis level and I am thankful for that.
I know that standing in line outside in the rain looking at a prison complex with huge fences and razor wire all around and knowing that your dad is inside there isn’t an easy thing to grasp.
I also know that the meltdown was just triggered by the “poncho” situation but the real emotion spilling down his cheeks was something much more than just having to wear a trash bag poncho. Note to self, buy umbrellas to avoid situation next time
We survived that ordeal and we stood in line in our trash bag ponchos. We stood in line until 9:15 that morning. We were sure we wouldn’t make it in before 10am count, but we did. However the inmates didn’t make into the visiting room until after count so we sat in the visiting room for about an hour waiting for Chris to get in there. I was thankful though, because we were out of the rain.
I met a very nice woman in line Saturday morning and I sat by her during the hour we waited for the inmates while we were in the visiting room waiting for count to clear so they could come in. We talked and I found out they are on year 7 of a 12 year stay. I talked with her son and her grandchildren. That woman and her son gave me hope. It was very encouraging to see them and talk with them. I loved talking to her son and hear him talk about his dad in conversations very normally like his dad was there as part of his life every day. This kid loved Elvis and was telling me all kinds of things about Elvis and he would say “my dad told me” or “my dad” about every other sentence. It made my heart full to know that this journey can be done. Marriages can survive, children can still thrive and have a relationship with their dad. I am sure they have hard days & their walk isn’t easy but they provided hope and encouragement for me that day and I am thankful God put them around me for me to see my ‘bread crumbs’ for the day.
The check-in process was much the same and as smooth as the last time I visited. I am thankful for the team we had Saturday doing visitor check-in because the team on Sunday wasn’t cooperative. We decided that when we got into the visiting room we would sit on the opposite side of the room and my mother in law would sit in the regular spot they have been sitting for a few weeks now. If you read my last entry you know that we surprised him and he had no idea his son and I were there. We waited until he sat down with his mom and then we walked around and stood in front of him.
This was an interesting part for me.
I wanted and was expecting a movie type reaction, you know when someone gets a good surprise in a movie and it’s just a great reaction with some tears and huge hugs, etc. Yea, not so much….that didn’t happen. He looked at his son and then at me, with what I can only describe as shock and all he said was “what are ya’ll doing here?” I don’t think I’ve ever left someone completely speechless but that was the case.
Shocked and speechless.
It was a good 15 seconds before it sank in and hugged either of us. I wasn’t sure if he was happy we were there or not. It was about half an hour before I could finally tell he was thrilled to see us.
That was the highlight of Saturday, the visit was filled with questions from his son, chatting about all kinds of things, and of course the ever important vending machine selections.
Saturday night we made a trip to Walmart to buy umbrellas since the forecast called for more rain on Sunday and I didn’t want a replay of the trash bag poncho meltdown again Sunday morning. Apparently things to keep you from getting wet in the rain are triggers for meltdowns from my 12 year old. There was another meltdown in Walmart over a $5 umbrella Saturday night. Again, I know it was much more than the umbrella. That is just what triggered all the emotions of the day. My mother in law was with me again at Walmart and I am was grateful. In the end he did get the $5 umbrella because after that my heart was just broken and it’s just a $5 umbrella. He was much better Sunday after a decent night’s sleep and more sleep on the way to visit Sunday morning.
Sunday was a good day.
We got a first class lesson on how different things can be day to day at visitor check in. The team on Sunday wasn’t so great, I just kept telling Michael our only goal here is to get into the visiting room to see Chris, so we would do whatever they asked. Even if they weren’t nice to us we were going to be nice and gracious to them. Sunday the rules were no sleeveless tops/dresses even if you had a sweater over it. That has never been the rule before; I had to go change. You could not chew gum. Ladies that always bring in lip gloss couldn’t. The same bracelet I have worn each time I visited (including the day before) wasn’t allowed on Sunday. I keep a small piece of paper in my clear change purse with my car tag number on it and my husband’s inmate number on it since you have to have that for paperwork and they made me throw that way Sunday.
Sunday was definitely different.
I said after my first visit that I don’t know how anyone could follow the rules 100% since they change daily. It appears it is fairly normal for things to change.
Sunday was a good day, it was a good visit. I think we all enjoyed it.
Until we had to say goodbye, I hate that part. It’s the worst part. It breaks me. Every time. I have to leave the prison and drive 7.5 hours back to Tennessee. It’s a hard and sad drive each time. I cry a lot on those drives. On this drive looking over at my 12 year old asleep in the passenger seat completely exhausted on his way back from visiting his dad in prison was almost more than I could bear. He is 12, he should be sleeping on the way back from summer vacations or trips over the road with his dad in his 18 wheeler. He should not be sleeping on his way back from visiting his dad in prison.
This will be the next 8 years of our life.