Sonni’s note: For those that see this posted twice, I also printed it as a page on Inside the Forbidden Outside<
Early in 2015 I began to write a book giving Jamie a voice for his life -a voice to speak about the experiences he’s been through and why they happened. Rereading his letters, there are a few common threads that run through them. The deepest one is loneliness. The second one is not understanding why no one cares. The third one is determination. When he gets he out he is going to be a father to his son, one he never had himself. It was hard not be affected by Jamie. Other people see what the people closest to him cannot.
This is why, after years of writing letters, I chose to start writing his blog the beginning of 2014. It’s hard to not have feelings for him when you read his words. I have heard from so many readers who have been affected by his story and are pulling for him to have a successful life. He hasn’t heard many words of encouragement from people in his life, but he will knows there are many people all over the world who wish the best for him. He is a good man – a lonely man – who had one time in his life where he thought he found happiness. He so loved a woman who loved him back, who was having his baby. His child! But he lost that long before it ever breathed life. That child is now almost nine years old. The times he has seen him, through glass, has been few.
The first half of his life he was a lonely child. You can have a large family and still be alone. Getting sucked in to juvy system at sixteen took away the rest of his youth. Being released at age 21 and shortly after, meeting my daughter and getting pregnant was the happiest he had ever been. He didn’t know life could be so good. He would do anything he had to, to take care of his precious family. Anything. But how could he do that? He didn’t know what to do. He had no education. No job. No driver’s license because of epilepsy. He had no wisdom. He didn’t understand consequences. He had no life experience to draw on and no one to seek guidance from. Under pressure to take care of this precious life he created, he chose to go along with something incredibly stupid, and lost everything. Now at age 32, he still sits, trying to stay optimistic about having a life, yet still doesn’t know how to do that.
Does that make him a bad person? No. He, too, is a product of his environment, just like we all are. There are many people in prison who are very broken. They come from tortured lives of abuse and violence. What their environment taught them, took them to a place where having a life that fits inside society is far beyond their grasp. The only place their life works is inside a prison where others understood the language they spoke. They never experienced or learned what a good life should be. You learn by your experiences, your community. When these people get out of prison, they may want a different life, but they won’t know how. They will end up back inside. These people are only a portion of why people are locked up and unfortunately those are the ones you hear about. So you believe that prisons are only for bad people, and most of them, unfortunately have sentences that last longer than they should, with every form of inhumane treatment your imagination can think of.
But how did Jamie end up losing his way? What cause was made where this could be the only outcome? The experiences you have in life don’t happen by accident. There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck. There is only causes you’ve made that you might not understand. Some are easy to see and some are not. There is nothing that manipulates life like a puppet on strings. What he is experiencing, just like all of us, is the effects of these causes we made in our lives. So how does he change it? How does he turn it around? That is what I explore in this writing of his life.
Why should I care? Why was I pulled into his life? What part was I to play? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else and say how unfortunate it was that this was happening and then go on with my life? Or, I could say it hurt me so much he was in there, that I was unable to bring myself to write back. It wasn’t my fault he was there. Why did I feel it was my job to be there for him? I didn’t just become part of his life for no reason. A cause was made. By him? By my daughter? By me?
I became part of his life because was no one else there. He is the father of one of my grandsons. His pain was too great for me to become like everyone else. Jamie and I needed each other. It wasn’t a one way street. He wasn’t “using” me, as one person told me. I didn’t buy the statement, “Once a loser always a loser.” He needed to be taught things he never had a chance to learn – how to pull himself up so he can one day be a father to his son, my grandson? Wishful thinking won’t cut it. He needed someone he could count on, who wouldn’t judge him, and like a parent, I became mom.
That is why I do what I do.