Jamie sent hundreds of letters during his incarceration, explaining the wounded grief he lives with on a daily basis, because of the separation from his family. He is a parent who has never had the chance to touch his ten year old son.  That is a pain too hard for me to imagine. I have children.   If I could see them, but was unable to reach through the glass and hold them even one time in their lives it would break me. He has a right to his grief.

       If he doesn’t learn how to deal with that, what kind of man will be walking out the door when his sentence is over? Will he be angry at life, still uneducated, inexperienced about everything, low self esteem, and with no way to understand how to put his life back together because his family hasn’t cared enough to even answer his letters? How could he trust them to be there for him? Alone, what do you think his chances of survival will be?  Everything happens for a reason. This is why I came into his life.

       The first letter I have listed here was sent June 1, 2009, three years into his sentence. His son was two and a half. We had been writing for about a year by then. Morgan took the kids to see him. It wasn’t an easy trip for her to make because it was about fifteen hours of driving across the state of Texas, which is like driving through hell. The sight of an occasional billboard is the only thing to remind you there is civilization somewhere beyond the horizon. It is hot and humid. Driving through that with a full carload of bored children would test the patience of anyone. After an emotional visit there is another fifteen hour drive back, with many stops the kids needed for food and bathroom breaks. Jamie’s mother went with them to help with the kids. Jamie had seen his son only one time before this when he was a baby, still in a carrier. This was also the last time he saw his mother for more than five years

       I don’t think I received a happier letter than this one. On this visit, he could see his son running around. That vision carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights when he only had himself to talk to. This was one of five times he saw him in ten years, as of 2016, and at each visit there was plexiglass between them. The craving to hold his son made his punishment complete.  Even so, this visit created a memory he has relived a thousand times. It was also the last time he saw his son until 2013. This separation caused him to feel so much guilt because he felt he had let his son down. He wasn’t there when he should have been. He had countless hours of time alone with nothing to do but think about this. These thoughts went around in his head on an endless loop.

       Frustration was high for Jamie because there was nothing he could do to change anything.   Being a parent from prison is almost impossible.  Morgan made it even more difficult for him because her communication slowed to a trickle. But there are two sides to every story. This was not about her deliberately making life hard for him. For her, it was about survival and trying to make a life for herself and four children, often working two jobs to support them. She married and had another child. She was exhausted all the time because she rarely had a day off. Eventually, as time went by she went on with her life. Jamie couldn’t go on with his, and he became bitter and angry. He couldn’t understand why she couldn’t or wouldn’t bring his son to see him. Seeing his son has been the only thing that mattered to him.  It should have happened, but it couldn’t happen. Life got in the way.

       It just wasn’t his son he wanted to see. He wanted to see his family, but after the initial time after his incarceration, his family didn’t seem to care enough to be there for him. Since it was rare to get a visit what else could he think? He felt forgotten. Letters were never answered. No one helped him get the basic things he needed the prison doesn’t supply.  No one would help pay the medical fee each year so he could call for a nurse when he had a seizure.  These things aren’t free.  Many inmates don’t have the money to pay that fee, so when they are sick, they have to be dying to maybe get help. Because of Jamie having epilepsy he needed to be able to make that call.  Even I asked his family for help, but I ended up paying it myself.  It was hard for him to see it any other way than what it was. He was alone and was on his own. All he had was me.

       Morgan had to prioritize what was important so she could take care of her children. She didn’t stop writing to Jamie because she stopped caring that he was the father of their son. She stopped because of the emotional overload dealing with it. She couldn’t be responsible for Jamie’s happiness while working seventy hours a week taking care of the needs of her children. Was it right or wrong? It is not for anyone else to judge. It is only unfortunate that sometimes our decisions end up hurting other people. It will be up to both of them at a later date, after he is released from prison, to see what puzzle pieces still fit together so they can both be parents to their son.

AN INMATE ONLY HAS MEMORIES

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 Morgan 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 Morgan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, and 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 the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)

       Me and my mom talked a while and then Morgan 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 (it didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.

Two days later . . .

       So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa 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.

       I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Morgan’s daughter got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that we couldn’t have a contact visit, and had to  have plexi-glass between us.

      She 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 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 Morgan 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. 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 you have in Key West. Morgan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, either. 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 with my epilepsy. I would love to drive all over the country.

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

IN PRISON STILL WAITING FOR MY FAMILY TO CARE

April 1, 2011

Dear mom,
April fool’s day! Except I think it’s been me who has been the fool. But I pray that you’re okay, as well as Morgan and the kids. Things have been real scary the past few weeks. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been hard because I feel as though everyone has given up on me. No one writes to check on me, or even to say hi. I’ve lost faith in them and myself as well. I have been so down.

       I’ve been getting into trouble. I feel there’s no reason to try anymore. I feel this way because I don’t even know how my little Jamie is doing. The way things are going I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see or hear from him again. It hurts me to sit and think like this, but as time passes and I don’t hear anything, the worst comes to mind.

       I’ve sat in my cell and cried so many times because my heart is telling me I’m losing him. Also, because the thought of my family giving up on me is really hard to take. I guess it was just a matter of time, really, to tell the truth. I don’t plan on making it home. It’s hard to not look for the worst of things in here. Lord knows, I want to make it home to everyone, but why go back to a place where no one loves or cares about you. Then I just know little Jamie will hate me for not being there for him. I felt the same way about my dad. It’s really going to hurt me to have my only child hate me.

       But how are you? Is everything okay? I thought I would give you some time before I wrote again. I know you must be tired and have other things you’d like to do. However, as long as you are blessed and okay, then I am okay as well. How is Morgan? Tell her I miss her and I really would like to hear from her. Well, I’m out of time. I hope I hear from you real soon. Love you. Tell Morgan and the kids I love them. Would you ask her if she would call my brother and see if he can send some money for hygiene products please.

Love, Son.

PRISON SENTENCES ARE JUST AS LONG FOR THE CHILDREN

July 2012

Dear mom,

       I’m just lonely and it hurts. I miss everyone so much. It seems as if no one cares at all how I’m doing. It’s so hard not to think about it. It bothers me that the woman I care so much for isn’t worried about my health or well being. No one stays in touch with me at all. It hurts that Morgan is treating me as if I’m not Jamie’s dad. What I mean is, she don’t tell me anything about how he’s doing. Everything I know comes from you. I’m very thankful for that. I would love to hear from Morgan once or twice a month. What’s so hard about that? I get mad and try to write to let her know I’m mad but I end up throwing the letter away. I tell myself it’s all my fault I’m here. Then again, it’s no reason for her to not stay in touch. If not for her then for the kids. I do love them and miss them so much.

       It hurts so much not being there for Jamie. I’ve missed out on so much. I’m trying. I’m staying clear of trouble. I come up for parole on July 27, 2014. That’s one reason why I try to stay in touch with everyone. If these people decided to give me parole and they can’t get in touch with nobody I will have to wait for them to find me a half way house. I’m being treated like an unknown person by them.

       So, if it stays like this, why should I try? My son is young and he has dyslexia. It’s hard for him to write. But still, Megan could give him some paper and let him color a picture for me. EVERY little thing touches my heart. I miss him so much. I sit here trying to read and my mind wanders thinking of everyone, from the night me and Morgan met, even to the day I met her dad, to the day I first met my son. That was the most wonderful moment in my life.

       Please talk to Morgan for me. Ask her what’s wrong. Why don’t she write to me? Tell her all she has to do is let me know. I can’t put up too much of an argument here. I just want the truth, that’s all. I’m going to close this letter. Take it easy, okay? Take one day at a time. The pain will be over soon and things will be just as beautiful as before. I love you mom.

THE VALUE OF A LETTER

June 17, 2014

Dear mom,
You know that mail and visits are the two things everyone looks forward to when you are locked up. It’s all we have when it comes to friends and family. I’ve heard a lot of dudes who are getting ready to go home say they had nowhere to go. What are they supposed to do when there is no one in their life to encourage them. You said you wrote to that dude on death row, and I bet he was so glad to hear from you. What happens is sometimes someone will get a letter from a penpal site and they are so glad because they think they finally have someone to write to. So they write long letters hoping the person who wrote to them will be interested enough to keep writing. He might not have anyone else to write to, so he hopes he says the right thing, hoping you’ll write back. When you sit alone in a cell all day all you can do is think about your life and now he has a chance to tell someone how he feels. People on the outside don’t understand how important that one letter can be to someone who doesn’t have anyone to care about them and hope they are okay. It can make all the difference in the world to that person.

       All these years, all I had was you. How would my time here be if you hadn’t cared. It was rare to get a letter from anyone, and even when I did, it was a catch up on what was happening with everyone, not about how I was doing. I would write back, but I usually ended up throwing them away because I would get too emotional. They don’t want to hear how I feel about things. I do appreciate, though, when someone takes the time to write. But you are the only one I open up to about things. It’s hard for me to do that, but it’s also important to be able to get it out.

       It hurts when I have to find the words to explain how much I fucked up my life, and now my son’s. But I am determined to change these things. You’ve given me the hope I can do it. You’ve taught me that I am a valuable person. I also want to be the man my mother wanted me to be. She did the best she could. I let her down. I want her to be proud of me. And I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me.
I am determined to have a better life. I know what kind of person I am. I know what I feel inside. Right now I feel the misery of losing a loved one. Everyone can have the determination to change. It is up to them to decide when the time is right.

I LOVE YOU ALWAYS, DADDY

August 4, 2014

       This is a letter Jamie wrote after his son’s eighth birthday. He included a letter he wanted me to send to his son.

Hello mom,
I sit and think a lot. I sit and think about how life will be when I get home, wherever that is. A lot of this has been frustrating. Father’s day was real hurtful for me. It was on a weekend. I didn’t hear from or see Morgan with Jamie, or from anyone else, either. I was hoping that since it was a weekend that she’d bring my son. Oh well, it wasn’t a surprise to me. And now Jamie just had his birthday. Eight years old. It hurts like hell that I didn’t get to see him on his birthday. I’m having something made for him. I spent everything I had left to get it done. It’s still not finished. Would you call him please and tell him I did not forget him? Tell him I love him and happy birthday. I wrote him a letter would you send it to him? I sold my food to get a stamp to send this letter to you.

Jamie’s letter to his son –

       Guess who? Yes, it’s me, Daddy. First I want to say I’m sorry this is so late. I have never forgotten about you. Nor did I forget about your birthday. I’m getting something made for you. You will like it when you see it. I love you Jamie. I will always love you.

       So happy birthday from a father to his son. I will always love you no matter what. Life is hard but we’re blessed to have it. We’re blessed to have each other. Strong faith will always keep us together. Even if I’m not home, believe, my love is so strong!! No one can break our chain of love we have for each other and that I have for you. I know it hurts, me not being home, but know that I think about you all the time. I didn’t forget your birthday and never will.

       What did you do for your birthday? I hope you had lots of fun!! If I was there we would have lots of stuff to do together. Movies, swimming, basketball, football, fishing. Lots of stuff. I couldn’t be there with you because of a poor choice I made a long time ago and I’m sorry. Making a poor choice will hurt your life, son. So be sure to live life in a positive way. Stay away from trouble, drugs and stupidity. Nobody means you any good if they are trying to get you to do wrong. Stay in school and pay good attention. Work hard for what you want. I did not do that and that is why I’m in jail. Listen to me son, nothing is worse than having your freedom taken away. Please stay away from trouble. Pay close attention to your education.

I love you always, Daddy

A PRISON CELL IS THE LONELIEST PLACE TO BE

November 12, 2014

       It’s okay. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.

       I ask myself over and over, why won’t Morgan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Morgan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved farther away from home, then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Morgan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that, but it’s hard not to.

       If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you, I would know nothing. Morgan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.

       I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. She came to visit me last year. First time in at about five years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple prisons that were too far away. They were clear across Texas. It was too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.

       It would be good if I could get Morgan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about.

PRISON VISIT – ONE YEAR UPDATE

Feb 4, 2015

Dear Mom,
It’s really cold. I think it maybe snowed but I can’t tell for sure because I can’t see out a window anymore. I never get any sun at all. In my last cell there was a window and I could see outside. I would pretend I was out there. If you’ve never been locked up you wouldn’t know how it feels to have no control over anything you do. You can’t make anything change. There is so much space in my head. I try hard to fill it up with things, but sooner or later I give up and go to sleep.

       Some years back, before you got sick, you wrote and told me to imagine we were outside riding bikes and we would ride to the top of a hill, meet there, and have a picnic. We could do that together at the same time. It would be a way for me to escape in my head. It was really the first time we talked about how powerful the mind is and how important it is to have hope. You told me over and over how important my life is. I don’t understand what you saw in me, but I’m glad you did. It’s like my family washed their hands of me. It wasn’t important to let me know they still loved me. It was like I died or something. You kept me from disappearing, or at the least so I wouldn’t become like so many people in here who have no hope. This place has a way of making you feel really small and you took hold of me and taught me how to keep it together.

       I’ve been thinking about my son a lot. I was so happy to see him in October (2013) when Morgan came. I wanted to see him so bad. He’s all I have. He’s the only thing I have that makes life worth living. He’s the only real thing that proves I lived. I don’t think Morgan really understands how important he is to me. The thought of him keeps me trying. I didn’t want to feel sure she would really bring him to see me. I didn’t even know for sure if they were coming. You told me she was trying to make sure she would make it. Morgan kept saying she would but something always got in the way. Really, I about gave up because the disappointment was too hard to bear. She said she’d come before and then couldn’t. But this time, when the officer came to my cell and told me I had visitors, well all I can say is that this big feeling of happiness came over me and I smiled so big. I was finally going to see my son. She had her two other sons with her, too.

       Before that day, it was hard knowing he was out there and I couldn’t see him. I wondered if he was going to be angry with me for not being there when he was growing up. Maybe he would be ashamed for anyone to know his dad was in prison. I’m so sorry I can’t be there for him right now. I know I can’t expect Morgan to stay by herself till I get out. She’ll have another man in her life but it would rip me up if my son called some other man, dad. Or if some man tried to come between me and my son.

       I’m missing all of these years with him I can never get back. When I saw him he was really shy. It was hard to get him to talk to me. I can’t blame him for that. He was probably scared. He was hardly more than a baby the last time he saw me. I want so badly to be able to give him a hug and tell him how much I love him. More than anything he is the one thing in my life that gives me the reason to want to get out of here and have a good life. I want to be a good father. Having him is the only thing I have done right. He’s the only good thing I have.

       Morgan doesn’t write to me very often. I’ve begged her so many times. I think she would if she really wanted to. Instead of telling me the truth she gives me all of these excuses like she wrote a bunch of letters but her boyfriend or whoever found them and threw them away every single time she wrote one. It was one excuse after the other. I think if someone wanted to write a letter they would find a way to get it into the mailbox without getting caught. She shouldn’t need to sneak. Nothing anyone can do will make me not exist. I will always be his father. She should be able to write a letter and tell me about my boy without getting into trouble. So that doesn’t make sense.

       Why doesn’t she hardly send me any pictures? Sometimes I get out all the pictures I have and I go over them one by one and think of all the memories I have. I just stare at them and make them part of my day and pretend I am in the picture instead of being here.

THERE IS NO WAY TO BE A DAD IN PRISON

July 17, 2015

       Morgan is with another man. I accept that because he is little. But it isn’t the same as having your own dad. When she and I were together, her other kids accepted me, not just because I was with their mom, but because I loved her, and them. When I was young my dad wasn’t there, but I didn’t accept anyone else even though there were other men in my mom’s life. Do you see where I’m coming from?

        Some dads in here have a chance, but not many. Some want to be a dad and some don’t. I wish I knew more about how they are. I want Jamie to know that even though I can’t be there every day I love him so much. I hope his writing gets better so he can write to me, even if it is only a sentence or two. That would make me happy. But I can tell you, I could never accept my son bonding with another man. I’m his father, his only father.

       I should be able to see Jamie once or twice a month. What’s twice a month? Is that too much to ask? I have seen him so little. I want to be able to talk to him. I want him to see me. I want to tell him how important he is to me. I understand we have to get to know each other through letters, but the thing is, he’s only nine. You and I understand the rough road in life and we can explain things to each other in letters. Jamie can’t do that. But he is important, so I have to find a way to get through to him. I need to change things for him so he never goes through what I’m going through. I can start that by changing who I am. Change the karma. That will affect his life, too.

*********************************

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards

Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares (forward)
First two chapters:
Everyday Dreams
Jamie’s Story

I have begun a newsletter on different aspects of the prison industry as well as updates on the progress of the book. I’m looking for a reasonable cost publishing house that can also include CD’s of the piano music found at http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick, most of which was written for the book.Fill out the contact form to be put on the mailing list which will only go out monthly. (You won’t get bombarded like some businesses do!)

One thought on “The Value Of a Prison Letter

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