old memories, forgotten and alone, Jamie Cummings
photo credit: polyvore.com

(Sonni’s note: An inmate needs his memories of his family. Take that away and he begins a spiral down. That connection with his life outside is all he has to cling to. He spends his day reliving every touch, every shred of happiness and every sliver of hope, real and imagined that will help him get through one more day. One more day. One more day.

When that hope is dashed – with silence and with unanswered letters and no explanations, only his imagination is left to think the worst. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe something is wrong. What isn’t he being told? But the last thing he wants to imagine is that his family has no time to care about him anymore. Maybe they are just too busy to write? So he waits and waits and waits.

When the years start passing and there are no new memories to add to the old, the biggest enemy is depression. We need to be loved. We crave to be loved. We need human touch. We need to know people care. Life goes on for everyone else and Jamie spent these hours, days, weeks, months and years, alone trying to pretend to himself it was only because they were too busy that no one wrote or helped him. Occasionally Megan wrote but it was understandable why it became less and less. She had a family to care for and she knew that waiting for him was not an option because it was too long. I think she could have tried more to help him know his son, and for his son to know he had a daddy who loved him back. So i became the glue trying to hold it together and all it did was cause resentment from my daughter because she didn’t understand why I cared. Maybe if i had never written to him in the first place non of this would have happened, but I did, and this is what it became.

If Jamie had no interest in his son it would also be a different story but that isn’t the way it is. He has begged and begged to see his son, waiting on his birthday and father’s day in the hope that maybe this year will be different. It only takes minutes to put a stamp on an envelope and send a colored picture. The more attention I showed him the angrier she got. She doesn’t understand why I do what I do, and I’m not going to stop and become what everyone else is – too busy to care. She thinks it’s weird that Jamie and I developed a relationship. I saw a man going down because no one showed him they loved him anymore. He was just a forgotten, son, brother, father, boyfriend who had no lifeline. I became that lifeline and have never regretted it. If there continues to be failed understanding, i can’t change that but at least Jamie’s son will know the truth when he gets older about how much his father loves him and always has.

This letter was his only letter that expressed happiness – in spite of everything. In the midst of all these writings that are so painful, there is this one where he was happy. It was four more years before he saw Megan and his son again. Several times in a short period of time and one of them was with me when I went to Texas in 2013. It was almost two years ago. He has been living within driving distance of family and has yet to see his son again. It’s an unhappy situation. This is why I do what I do, in the hope of helping to make his life better when he gets out so he has the opportunity to be a father.

Sometimes an inmate has no family and has no memories to hold on to. This person will be forever lost to this system that will just eat him up with sentences that are too long and being treated with harsh inhumanity. When you wake and when you go to sleep and you know there is no one who cares if you’re alive, he has no reason to try. They give int to their demons. I couldn’t let that happen.

Jamie’s letter in this post is an old one. June, 2009 La Mesa,Texas. It’s a harsh part of Texas, too far away for family to easily visit. But when he was moved closer it wasn’t the distance that mattered. Taking time out of a busy day to show him he mattered – to anyone – became evident. No help financially even a little bit. Send a book? A magazine subscription? Anything? The effort has been so minimal and it mattered so much.

When he was incarcerated in La Mesa it took three days by car to drive back and forth across Texas, a long, boring, hot trip. The trip was made once because it was so hard. It seems as though the prisons make a special effort to try to separate inmates from their families as much as possible as another way they can punish them. There are more than 100 prisons in Texas and this one was the farthest one. It was a hard trip that also included the kids and his bio mom. This is the first time Jamie ever saw his son. He was just shy of two years old. It was also the last time he saw him for four years. This letter I received from Jamie was the happiest letter he ever wrote and it carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights.
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June 1, 2009

Hello mom,

How are you? Fine I hope. As for me I am as happy as can be. Thanks to you I was able to see my wife and kids. ( Sonni’s note: He and Megan were not married but they did fill out a common law marriage form that never got filed, so in his mind he considered her to be his wife and she identified herself to any prison official as being his wife so they would talk to her.)

Thank you. I love you so much for helping to make this happen. We had fun. We talked and laughed and shared our love with one another. Me and the kids talked a lot. They were just as happy to see me as Megan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, also about the things they were going to do for the summer. I really enjoyed talking to them. It was like spending time with them at home. Me and Jamie had fun talking to each other, too. He’s a real good talker. Ha ha. That boy can run, too. He’s short, but fast. If there is one thing I know he loves, it’s money! Every few minutes he wanted to go to the machines. He also knows right from wrong. He kept running off but when he saw me get up and look at him he came right back every time. My little one, my son, he is is the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)

Me and my mom talked a while and then Megan and I spent the last hour talking, sharing our love for one another. I love her so much and my heart goes out to her. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. She is the most beautiful woman I ever met and she has the most beautiful voice! Without her and the kids there is no ‘me’. That is why I’m staying out of trouble and staying to myself so I can try to make my first parole ( didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.

So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa ( the second oldest) said she was ready to come visit. I told her to have fun. She said she couldn’t wait to help out at the store. Thank you again for all your help. I love you always.

(Sonni’s note: Two days later I got another letter and thought I would add it to this one.)

I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Alyssa got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that they couldn’t have a contact visit.( without a glass partition and speaking through a phone) Me and Megan laughed! Alyssa is a very smart young lady. She told me she wants to be a doctor. I told her to stay positive and do good in school and she can do anything she sets her mind on doing. Alex told me I look different. I told him it’s because I have on my glasses. I didn’t wear them when I was at home. We talked about him going to visit his dad. I think it’s good Megan is giving him a chance to spend time with him. I feel that every man or woman should be given a second chance unless they don’t want to live the right path. I think it’s good she’s giving his dad another chance to get to know him. ( Things didn’t work out very well with that and his dad is back in San Quentin) Maybe they will build a better father-son relationship. I pray they will get along okay.

So, how are you mom, really? How is Mike doing? I can’t wait to come home so I can come and visit with you, mom. Maybe I could even help around the house or the store. Megan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, neither. I’ve been on a plane, though. To tell the truth I’ve never been outside Texas. So that is something I want to do with my family. Explore different states and sights. It would be fun I think. It would be fun to be a truck driver but I doubt that could happen. I would love to drive all over the country.

Well, mom, I’ve got to go. I love you, your son-in-law.

.

m

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