Crazy Dreams and Sleepless Nights – chapter

Time. More time. What does it mean, Jamie thought. So many countless hours of time were spent trying to figure that out. How does he use this time he was given as a sentence? Why is it called a sentence? Because there is an end? This was time stolen from him he can never get back. Never. Time that was meant for his son.
He didn’t have a record before this. It wasn’t like he had been in and out of jail. Juvenile detention didn’t count. He did that time for his brother to protect him. Yes, he was with the dude who had a gun and robbed a club, but he wasn’t the one who did it.
He panicked and ran and got caught. What was seventeen years in prison going to change? There was no point to this. Did it take that long to know he had to pick better friends?
He had no friends. He was never free long enough to make friends that mattered. There was only Morgan and the kids. That is why it mattered so much. She was the only one out there that had been part of his life except for his family. Now he was in here and he needed someone out there where he mattered, someone to come home to. He had to face it; she wasn’t going to be there because she went on with her life. To continue thinking about her being there was stupid and it always made him feel bad.
Jamie sat there with tears in his life, like he always sat there. He closed his eyes and rocked back and forth. He tried to think of something else, but he couldn’t. He was tired of thinking about his memories. They were worn out.

It wasn’t a good feeling knowing he was as a prisoner because they said he was a danger to society. His side of the story was pointless, so he was convicted and sentenced without anything from him. That’s how they do things.
So he guessed he was lost, hidden somewhere in this concept of time. Time to eat. Time to shower. Time spent on lockdown. Wasted time. Endless time. Time to sit and think. He didn’t have enough to do to fill the time.
Jamie spent a lot of time staring at the walls. Strange, when he thought about it. He spent his time like he was feeding coins into a vending machine.
Sometimes he kicked and beat his hands on the walls when he got fed up and wanted to lash out. It was how he handled frustration. But today he sat calmly on his bunk and stared at the wall, imagining a different world on the other side. He could see through it if he concentrated. When he focused, he could see his son playing outside and talking to his mom, asking where his daddy was and if he was ever going to come home. Thoughts like this killed him with pain, so why did he do it to himself, over and over?
Jamie remembered when he was young he wondered where his own father was, and why he was the only kid in the family who didn’t have one. He learned to not think about it because it didn’t do no good. He never got a real answer so he stopped asking. He didn’t want his son to go through the same thing he did, but he was and it hurt to know it was his fault.
How could he shake these feelings when they crept up on him and went round and round through his brain? Times like this he missed Morgan and his son the most. If only things could have been different.
The feeling of loss settled on his heart like a heavy blanket and suffocated him. He felt so alone.

How good it would be if he could sit and have a conversation with someone today, just to talk about stuff. No yelling to another cell, but a real talk. Yes, he had Sonni, and they talked. It helped a lot, but that could be him going crazy. He had to think about that. It wasn’t normal. If he told anyone they would for sure think he had lost it. But he hadn’t seen her in weeks. He hoped she was okay.
Jamie sighed. The more he tried to pass the time the slower it went. He laid on his bed and stretched out. Then he turned on his right side and curled into a fetal position. He wrapped his left arm around his knees so he had something to hold and put his other arm under his head. He laid there, slowly breathing, not moving.
When someone goes to prison his head changes. He’s not the same anymore, he knew that. He had to grow up, but without experiences that would teach him the right way to do things. He had little wisdom.
Will people he knew only see him as he was years ago? What if no one took the time to see who he became? Have they changed, too? There were so many things that happened since he got here that have shaped who he is today. More will happen.
Jamie hadn’t gotten used to the changes that happened to him during his four years in juvenile detention before he ended up here. What did he learn about life? He knew he didn’t have enough practice living on his own. Here he was, a grown man, and he hadn’t experienced yet how to take care of his own life and how to deal with the problems of everyday living without someone to lean on.
He might think he would be okay and make the right choices but he only knew what he knew. He didn’t know what he didn’t know, if that made any sense. Could he count on people helping him when they weren’t helping him now? One thing was certain, though. He didn’t have to wiry about it right now. He wasn’t going anywhere.
He spent far too much time with his own thoughts. Why did no one think he needed help to survive. He wasn’t thinking just about money. He needed to know he mattered. He wanted to knowWas he not worth it anymore just because he was in a prison?
No letters came asking him if he was okay. Did he need anything? Without Sonni . . . he left it at that. He didn’t know what he would do without her, and she was so sick. It wasn’t fair to expect her to be there.
If someone took the time to find out how he was, where did they take it? Did they leave it wherever they took it for someone else to find? Did it get lost, too? If it was found, would the time be added to the end of his sentence? He was losing it.
These were the thoughts that could drive a man crazy. When he left this prison one day he would not be the same person anymore. He would be a stranger to everyone.
He won’t have to worry about that for a long time because there was still a lot of time to go. Go where? Insane? Hurry up and wait.

This was how Jamie spent his lonely hours. No matter what, his mind never stopped. Time became the enemy and he wanted to scream, to prove to himself he still existed. No wonder so many dudes in here went crazy.
Doing time, that was how a prison sentence was described. “How much time did he get?” The more time you got told people how bad the crime was, whatever you did, or didn’t do. What was scary is you didn’t have to commit a crime to get a sentence of time to do. You only needed to be accused of something to get put in here and if you or your family didn’t have the money to pay for an attorney you could kiss a chunk of your life away. It affected poor people the most, Blacks and minorities. The kids all seemed to lose their dads at some point.
Someone might say he didn’t get enough time as if how much time he got could make a difference and make everything be okay again. But frankly no one cared how much time he had to do.
Doing time. How can you “do” time? What do you do when you do time. He almost laughed trying to come up with an explanation for that. He was bored. He had nothing to do. Maybe time will stop.

This was his life – every day. Every single damn day. This was how mental illness snuck up on you if weren’t careful. He tried not to have conversations with himself, speaking both sides as if he were talking to another person. What if someone listened?
He stopped placing and stood silent for a few seconds. Did anyone hear what he and Sonni talked about? They had to. But did they hear what she said? Or was it only in his head? Maybe he spoke both parts? That couldn’t be possible because he could hear her, and he didn’t know what she was going to say, did he? He didn’t dream up her part of the conversation. At least he didn’t think he did. No one ever said anything about hearing him talk to himself. That was too weird.
Then he remembered the first time she came to visit when he called the guard to his cell. He couldn’t see her, so he thought his secret was probably safe.
Jamie wished she would come+ again soon. It had been awhile. He hoped she was okay.

The holidays had finally passed, his birthday, too. He was glad of that. Get these depressing feel good days over with because they didn’t feel very good to him. Starting with Halloween, a kid ‘s fun time he will never get the chance to experience with his son.
Then came Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and his birthday. All that happened in a little over two months, bang, bang, bang, and it was depressing. Now he waited for Valentines Day. He knew by now he would spend it alone. It was just another day.
Laying there he fell asleep. He slept so much that one day an officer came by and asked him if he was okay. Sleeping was one way to pass the time, back and forth from reality.

Everyone dreams. . .

Jamie woke up and found himself walking down a driveway. “What the heck,” he murmered to himself as he looked around.
There was snow on the ground and the sidewalk that wound around to the front door of the residence had been shoveled and cleared. Funny, he should be cold because he was only wearing his prison whites, but he didn’t feel cold even though it was January. The air felt weird, like the time he went to the hospital. He wanted to experience it as long as he could.
Jamie had never been in snow before. The only snow he saw was in pictures. He glanced at the back of a car in the driveway next door and it had Pennsylvania plates. This must be Sonni’s house. He couldn’t see any other reason to be here.
He walked over to a mound of shoveled snow and kicked it. Snow went flying. Jamie laughed like a little kid. If anyone was looking, what would they see? Snow flying up like a breeze hit it? He bent down and gathered snow in his hands and formed it into a ball. Doing this impossible thing while in a dream was amazing. He threw the snowball and it shattered apart when it hit the tree.
The last time he came to see Sonni was because she was too sick to travel. He was afraid that was the reason she had not come to see him for so long. . .

End partial chapter. Subscribe to ITFO News to read the full chapter. Then email me at squick@mynameisjamie.net and I’ll email the chapter to you.

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Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart?

Listen to Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

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This is the most recent music recorded for Jamie’s book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.

This chapter is in the middle of the book at time when he is trying to really understand that he needed to give up hope that he had no family to go home to when he got out. He had tried to imagine for so long there was someone waiting for him and his family would be there but the kids would be grown and would his son accept him? Would he want to know him? He could talk to him. Even though he knew this already a part of him didn’t want to give up. The grief he experiences when he thinks of everything he lost he can never get back it is overwhelming.

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I Love You Always, Daddy (Repost)

I was going through old posts today and re-read this one from father’s day 4 years ago. Rarely seeing his son because no one took him resulted in his son saying, “But I don’t know him. ” Of course he doesn’t. NO ONE would take him. Only me when  could fly down to Texas from Pa. I hope when both Jamie’s meet when he gets out Of prison, when his son is 17, they can make up for lost time.


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 Megan 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. 8 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.

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(Jamie’s letter) 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. Not 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

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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 Megan 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. 8 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.

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(Jamie’s letter) 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. Not 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

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Picking Up Broken Pieces – chapter/vid Inside The Forbidden Outside

 

Picking Up broken Pieces

“My summer is all about sweating. Endless sweating. It’s 103° today and there is no AC,” Jamie began writing in a letter to Sonni.
     “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing Chess, Scrabble or watching TV,” he wrote. “I sweat. I’ll sweat off a few pounds by the end of the summer. lol.”
     “I wish I were home so I could enjoy the summer with the kids.” That thought made Jamie stop writing and follow his imagination.

Putting his pen down, he stared into the universe inside his head where the kids were playing and he was there enjoying it with them. Throwing a ball to his son, he imagined he clapped when the child picked himself up and came running willy nilly into daddy’s arms. Jamie picked him up and swung him around in the air, both of them laughing. Reality came crashing down.
     Missing this time was one of life’s cruelest jokes. His son will never be a young child again. He won’t ever experience the good times of childhood, between father and son, when they could be together.

There will be no memories of him in his son’s mind when he thinks of his growing up years. His father was never there to celebrate a birthday. No! It was everything. His father wasn’t there taking part in any aspect of his life at any time. He wouldn’t know if he loved his father or not. There was no part of him in his life.
     He remembered his happiness when he learned he was going to be a father. Another of life’s painful jokes was knowing he didn’t have the job skills to support them. You can’t feed a family with love alone. He had been out of juvenile detention for less than a year. He didn’t know what to do to get his life going. He had no one to teach him the direction he needed to go to make the right choices.
     He spent his time hanging out with friends who also had no idea what to do with their lives. He always thought he would have found a way to make it work but he didn’t have a chance. Life took over and set his fate in motion. It was no longer in his control. All of his choices were now made for him.

He could always find a way into his own little world to escape for awhile. Thinking with his eyes closed slowly put a smile on his face. Did the kids think about him sometimes, too, or were they forgetting all about him by now? It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t ever forget about them.
     “I dream about walking open-arm to Morgan and the kids and gathering them into a big hug,” he wrote after he picked up his pen again. “But they will all be grown up by then, and I won’t be able to pick up my son and swing him around.” Would his son even accept him after all this time? Would he be angry?
     Jamie knew how it felt having an absent father. There was always a hole inside. He couldn’t even fill it with a face because he didn’t know what he looked like. How do you love someone who isn’t there? How can his son love him?
     There was a man who recently wrote to him and said he was his father. How was he supposed to take that? He wasn’t entirely sure that this was his father. His mama never talked about him, so where did he come from? Where was he?
     “I think my father just got home from a place like this. Never once in my life did he write to see how I was. No explanation. What was I supposed to think?” He continued writing.
     “He wrote to my mom, I was told, but he never asked about me. Now he’s home and it’s the same way I guess. I did finally get one letter from him asking me to give him a second chance to be a dad.” This next thought was hard for Jamie.
     “So I told him okay and asked for one thing from him. Give the love to his grandson that he didn’t give to me. I never heard from him again. Why did he even ask?”
     Jamie stopped and thought about that for awhile before he continued writing. Why would his father not want to know him?  How could he not want to know he was okay? He began writing again, “I understand what you said in your letter about prisoners not writing and how it ends up hurting their children. Please don’t put me in that category. I would give anything to be a father to my son. Sometimes my head is in a bad place. It is hard because I know how it feels. Jamie is too young to know if I write. But that doesn’t mean that me not being there isn’t hurting him. He needs to now he has a father and he is loved. It pains me deeply. I would do anything if I could fix this, but I can’t”
     Pretending to be with his family gave him a fleeting moment of happiness, followed by feeling the pain of his heart ripping in two. Sometimes it crippled him.
     “No one I love wants nothing to do with me. Out of sight, out of mind,” he wrote unhappily as he went back and forth between love for his family and feeling rejected by them. He couldn’t think of what he did to cause them to be that way. Was it his fault?  If it was he didn’t know what to do to fix that, either. And he sure couldn’t fix it from in  here.”
     “I really needed somebody to talk to about it,” He wrote. “I can’t keep it straight in my head.”  Being able to pour out his feelings on paper helped him make sense of it.
     Every day Jamie sat and stared at the wall, thinking about his sentence and felt like giving up in every way, but he couldn’t. His son was important and that thought is what kept him glued together.
     “I’m sorry, mom. I have to go.” His brain felt pulled in every direction. “My head really hurts pretty bad right now. ” He put his pen down and rested his forehead in his cupped palms, elbows on the steel desk. He gently rubbed his temples with his thumbs, pretending they belonged to someone who cared about how hard this was and knew how much pain he was in. He wanted comfort; someone who would make it all go away, even for a little while.
     “I love you, mom. I know you care. Thank you for your love and understanding. Everyone needs someone to talk to now and then. God bless you. God bless you.”

<<< >>>

Jamie broke down and wrote to his family again because he needed a little help. He needed a fan. It would help dry the sweat that soaked his body.  The effort of breathing made him sweat.  

     It wasn’t unusual for at least a few men men to die in here each year because of the heat, especially the older ones who were sick with something. Even he, as young as he was, passed out a few times from heat stroke when his body overheated. He doubted they would do anything about it. Paying someone’s family off if they tried to sue the prison was cheaper than putting AC into an old prison. Oh well, they probably think, someone died. Who cares. There is  more where they came from. A lot of the inmates didn’t have any family who cared if they died.

     He didn’t have money in his account to buy stamps so he was considered to be indigent. He could send letters and they would be mailed, but the mail room would keep track of that money. When money was put on his books they would take it back. He owed them for ten stamps already.
     Jamie asked if someone could please send him $22 to buy a fan but he didn’t get a letter back. Maybe they would have the time to write to him next week. He had a lot of reasons in his head why a letter didn’t come. Most of all he didn’t want to believe it wouldn’t come.
     He had no choice. He asked Sonni and she sent the money to be deposited into his account. Maybe it was pride. When he asked her he apologized up and down. What else could he do? He didn’t want her to think he was using her.
     Worrying most about his mom he still wanted to know if she was okay. She didn’t have to send no money if it was hard for her. He loved his mom and just wanted to hear from her. Maybe she was busy and didn’t have time. That was the justification he used.

<<< >>>

It would soon be little Jamie’s third birthday. He sent a letter inside a birthday card asking to please tell him happy birthday for him but he hadn’t heard back. Three years old already. Birthdays were hard for him. It drove home even harder how much he was missing. How many would pass by before would share one with him. 

     Jamie did what did every day. He sat on his bunk and stared at the wall, praying to make it through the day so could cross it off and begin the next one.

     Sonni waited for these letters from Jamie to know he was doing okay. She couldn’t do anything to help him besides be there for him and answer his letters. Encourage him and let him know he wasn’t forgotten.  Prisons scared her. She was afraid to call if he needed her to, but she did. It was out of her comfort zone. When she called the warden or medical unit she afraid of saying  wrong thing. She was just beginning to learn what the prison system was about and it wasn’t what most people thought.
     Jamie poured everything he was feeling into his letters. She had no previous understanding about life in prison except what was shown in movies and TV shows. She didn’t know anyone who did time in prison when she starting writing to him.  Going through these hard times with him was the first time she understood the devastating toll it took on the lives of those inside. Some were very dangerous people, but she knew many of them were badly treated by people far worse than the ones who were locked up. She was not going to the same thing others had and stop writing. She would not let him suffer with no way to release it.

Maybe this was the reason that brought them together. Everything happens for a reason. That is the law off cause and effect.

 

 

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Me, A Racist? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Letter date – Aug 29th, 2016

Hello mom,

From reading your letter it looks like your hands have been full. You do so much on the computer and I have never messed around on it.  Of course, it was never like it is now. Back in the 90’s we had a computer but we didn’t have internet.

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I was just reading the new issue of Time magazine you got for me. On the cover was little furry monster with horns, a big grin and a laptop on his lap.  the article speaks about all different websites, what they are used for and so on.  However, the main topic was about the hate in the internet world. It’s everywhere and it’s crazy.  I thought about what you said about me being called a racist and that is why I had no visitors.  Someone had spread rumors about me to people and maybe that is why nobody wants anything to do with me. Could this be the excuse I get now when there is still no visit? Like you, even though I know I can’t change anything with my family I can’t help but still think about it.  it seems as thought there should be a reason I could understand. Maybe I don’t agree with what is said but I don’t have any way to prove that it is not the way I am.

Being accused of being a racist when you know you have never said anything that could be taken as a racist remark makes me very angry. I have no way to defend myself. I can be accused of anything and those stories can be spread. People will believe these stories I am not this young immature man anymore. I am a man who has been through a lot these past ten years.  I have had to take responsibility for my actions and also take responsibility for things I didn’t do and was accused of doing, but I will be damned if I am going to take responsibility for being a racist.

It’s bad enough to be in here in the first place with other “charges” being added to my time.

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

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Depression, Chronic Illness and Solitary Confinement

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I’m not a professional so I can’t say for sure I know what I’m talking about. I only have my own observations of people who suffer from depression and also the what I’ve read. Depression is very real and it can be debilitating. My intention is not to make anyone uncomfortable or make light of their situation. I am only trying to understand something I don’t experience except on rare times when life temporarily gets overwhelming.

I’ve read the blogs of many people who suffer from depression and other chronic illnesses. Reading experiences is a best way to understand what they go through rather than only reading medical articles.

We all have deep sadness sometimes, and it can go on for a long time before we get a grip on it. Something happens to us sometimes we can’t find a place in our brains to put it, so it is always right in the front part of our thinking and it can stop us from living.

I’ve had times when I was down. It happened more when I very sick but I would find a way to pull myself out of it. The teachings from my practice of Buddhism gives me hope. I’m sure people of other faiths rely on their faith as well. I could that but sometimes people can’t.

Jamie has suffered suffered from depression since he was a child. Would it have been different if he didn’t have epilepsy that resulted in seizures from birth to present day? How does it feel knowing it will never stop unless science comes up with a cure?

How does a child deal with a hopelessness?  Do people think, “He’s only a kid.  He’ll snap out of it?”  Jamie doesn’t like to talk about it. It took a long time for me to understand  what it did to the relationships in his life with family and friends. It knocked his self worth down to nothing. Writing about it brings it back. He prefers to keep it locked away. It will have to be his choice to unlock it. Maybe talking about it could help but it is not my decision to make.

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I know there are different kinds of seizures and they affect people in different ways. It must be a dreadful feeling to know one is starting and it can’t be stopped. There is nothing you can do. Is there a feeling of embarrassment, not wanting to show what you think is your personal failing to other people? Do they talk about you behind your back, laughing, if they wanted to be cruel or even feeling sorry for you like you are a broken. It has been this way for him since before he even knew what it was.

I asked him if he could explain to me what it felt like. He wouldn’t, really couldn’t tell me. To write about it in detail would be like reliving it. It was too much for him. It was then that I finally realized that epilepsy was the underlying factor for everything. If this one biological thing had been different it would have changed everything in his life, but it couldn’t be changed. He tells me when he has another seizure and he tells me if it was bad enough to be taken to a real hospital or if the guards just let him lay there because they don’t want to do the paperwork. The prison is messing with his meds and won’t give him what he knows will work so the seizures are more frequent than necessary. But he doesn’t go into detail about the seizure itself. We do what we need to do to protect ourselves.

Would talking about it begin a healing process? Not to change epilepsy itself, but would it change what it does psychologically? I don’t know, but I do think that years of stuffing it down has caused insecurity that is easily rattled and it begins another episode of depression he can’t stop. Being completely alone in a cell with no one talk to makes it worse.

When that happens if he feels it is hopeless why should he even try to go on. No one will bring his son to see him unless I go to Texas. Family, his son, and my daughter all live in Texas within a couple hours of the prison.  Has anyone else made one trip to this prison? No.  In the past ten years he’s been locked is he not worth visiting, even when they learned he also has problems with his heart? No. I don’t have enough money to go often enough.

His family ignores him. He recently tried again and wrote to them – with no response. Would that make you depressed on top of everything else? The total lack of caring makes me angry beyond words. He sold his food for stamps because he couldn’t go to the commissary. Not meaning to make it worse for him, I waited too long to answer his last letter because of everything else I’m writing and he began thinking I was gone. I left him. I was mad at him. He thought he did something wrong. He has lost the one person who has been there for him nonstop all these years. I’ve been his rock and it was like I died. It sank him into a depression where he stopped eating and used sleep to escape.

He wrote a letter and poured out all the pain he was feeling, convincing himself it was all his fault. I felt horrible. But that day, after he wrote and sent that letter, he received my ten page letter. Because of things happening in my life it took about a week to write it –  in pieces. Sometimes I think he’s stronger than he is. Is it because I want him to be stronger?

I do know, and always have known, if I had never written that first letter he would not have made it this far. My daughter would still not be taking their son to see him. He is supposed to understand how hard it is on her yet she doesn’t understand the power she has to destroy him – or to make him happy. She doesn’t want for him to be happy – because of me. She’s angry at me for being there for him. His family would also still not be in his life. No one would be paying his medical fee, so his care would be even worse than it is. Medical care is not free.  I’m on disability.  It takes me months to pay off the fee and still have enough for a few basic necessities. He still would have no one who cared if he was okay. It doesn’t matter that Jamie’s son needs his father. Not “a” father – but his own father.  If I wasn’t there his depression would have destroyed him –  completely.

jamie cummings
Father on the left and son on the right – both eight years old.

His mother had him in therapy as a child and other times in his young life. It didn’t begin in prison. Because there is literally no help for those in prison who need it, when an inmate is locked up alone it often causes harm that can’t be undone. There are so many articles in the media about what happens to the mentally ill in prison and no one can seem to change it. Jamie is not mentally ill, but he does need people who care about him. He does NOT need to be made worse because the people in his life think he’s not worth their time of day.

He’s a big man, 6’2″. He is physically strong. He looks like he should be strong. But no one can see inside his head to find the scotch tape piecing him together. My daughter is very angry with me because she said I’m not allowing her to “let him go,” as if I’m doing this to her. She said my relationship with Jamie is gross. She’s angry at things I don’t even understand because it makes no sense. There aren’t any sides to take even though I feel as though I am supposed to take one. What is there to choose? She is my daughter. I love her and always will, but to do this will not make her happy. 

I don’t know why she is so angry except maybe this makes her look at things she doesn’t want to see. Jamie has asked only one thing of her – one thing.  To see his son.  He loves him.  Being a father gives him purpose when he doesn’t feel he has any.  It is not a big thing he asks.  My daughter does so much for her children.  She is a good mom – except for this.  It’s too much trouble to do this one thing. Give up an afternoon and let their son spend son time with his father.  Don’t do to your son what your father did to you – ignore you.

When Jamie got my ten page and realized I hadn’t left him – I was still there – he immediately wrote another letter and apologized. I can’t take for granted he will understand if I wait too long to write. Do any of us thoroughly understand what it is like to spend years locked away from all communication – away from people? We can’t. We have never been through it, let alone for ten years. There are inmates who are locked up for three or four decades. Are they supposed to come out of that okay? Did it accomplish anything good or productive? No. It’s cruel.  I will NOT be cruel and give up on him because I know there is a reason for me being there.  I see in him what he is capable of.  And I won’t let him give up on himself.  It is not an option.

I will continue to try, to learn, and help others if I can. This isn’t about me. It is about how I can use my life in a positive way. If anyone else doesn’t understand that I can’t make them understand. Sooner or later his family and I will meet eye to eye. I can’t promise to keep my mouth shut.

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Picking Up Broken Pieces Inside AdSeg

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June 3rd, 2016

Hello mom,
I received your letter today and boy, that sure was one long letter. I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can. I will also give you my true thoughts. I’ve really been sitting and thinking about my future. So many things just pop into my head, even when I don’t want to think about it. Please know that I’m okay. Sometimes I just go into a shell to get away. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t. But I’m fine, okay, so don’t worry.

(Sonni’s note: But I do worry. No matter how strong someone may think they are, if you spend time in solitary for an extended period of time you can’t help but be affected by it. Sometimes you have a grip on your head when you’re alone and sometimes you don’t, and it gets to you. I have studied extensively the effects of solitary. Unless you have been there no one can know – including myself, what it is like to go weeks, months and years with no one but yourself to communicate with. No physical touch, no words except orders, no one to talk to about these things in your head.

I had a few rather callous conversations with people who don’t understand and are quick to place blame. “It’s his own fault. He put himself there.” Nobody blamed anyone else, so why are they so quick to make sure you know that. Strangers and family. They think, he is in prison, he shouldn’t be making any mistakes, so it’s his fault. Don’t you think he know that? Do you think he should have learned to behave 100% of the time and never give in to emotions.. The inmate must never forget they are to blame.

Jamie has had some very tough times this last ten plus years – for a variety of reasons – some are because of things he has done and some are because of retaliation from prison guards who have let their authority go to their heads and there are no repercussions for the things they do to inmates. They think, even if he is being continually mistreated, he is supposed to remailn calm and don’t contradict guards when they accuse him of doing something he didn’t do. Jamie fills out grievances that are never filed. He is carried down a flight of stairs face first with the guards hooking their arms through the cuffs on his wrists and ankles after having a seizure, because the guards are too lazy to get the board he is to be carried on, strapped on his side in case he has another seizure. . . . .

But he is not to get mad? He is supposed to stay in control and be polite no matter what they do to him? But he is a human being. We all have emotions. Even with an animal, if you treat him bad often enough he is going too bite you. So here we have a human being – someone I know very well and he is expected to do something you yourself would not able to do. You might think you could, but you couldn’t.

Someone said to me, “But you would think by now, after ten years, he would have learned!” Does that mean, no matter what is done to him he is supposed to stand there and not react in any way, always staying polite. Never should he ever reach the point where he can’t take it anymore. Maybe he should crawl into his head so far that he can’t find his way to normalcy when he gets out? How is he supposed to interact with other people when it’s been driven into him that who he is, what he thinks and how he feels really has no importance.

I tell him constantly his life has value. He won’t have a clue what to do when he gets out, but no one who knows him will have much patience with that. They won’t help because they have no clue what solitary confinement is and they will expect that since he is a grown man he should know what to do. Honestly, no one gives a damn what happens to him. He is going to have to prove himself to them before they trust him enough to even be nice. Why should he have to do that?

If he had been a drug addict or a violent person who hurt someone or had a string of convictions that says this guy is trouble – stay away from him; I could understand their skepticism. Except for this, he has not one conviction on his record. Was he perfect? No, but then neither was I. I did things in my youth that could have gotten me prison time had I got caught. I know lots of things people who didn’t get caught for things they did. Have I made them prove themselves to me? I’d like to flush his family down the toilet.

When I read his letters there are times when I can tell he’s in trouble – not physically, but mentally. He tries to stay strong in his letters to me. But he will also apologize to me when he thinks something happened and he should have been in better control. It’s okay. tomorrow is another day. Start over and focus again on your future. Imagine where you’ll be and the
things you want to do. What have you learned that can help other people

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

I’ve been asked, “Why is he back in ad seg again. What did he do?” He probably reached the end of his rope one day and got angry. You aren’t allowed to get angry. Everyone single person has gotten angry and yelled at someone. What if you weren’t allowed to ever get angry and you had to push it down deep inside. Could you do it and NEVER fail? You would just quiet your mind and not react – month after month after month? No, you couldn’t, and then they would give you more time in adseg. It is a lose/lose situation
Many inmates spend years locked up alone. They never get out. How does the prison do it, because it is against the law now to punish someone with more than fifteen days of solitary? By creating more cases. It takes a long time to get out of the lower classifications of prison. Solitary, ad seg (G5) and often G4. If the guards can’t find a way to sentence you with more time, they will just make something up. Do you think they wouldn’t do that? The more people that are locked up like that, the less they have to do. If you were paid what guards were paid you wouldn’t want to do much, either. Besides, they have to endure heat, too. But they get to go home at the end of the day. Still, it’s s sucky job, so amuse yourself and go pick on some inmates. No one will care. Guards stick together just like cops.)
I got a letter from someone who reads your blog. She said her son just got 20 years. She asked me for some pointers. I told her that family support is very important. ( something his own family will never understand) I also gave her some do’s and don’ts to give to her son. She said she was thinking about getting him an attorney, one who used to be a felon. Bad move. I told her to be careful. Make sure he works for a firm so he is legit. Some are just out to get your money because you are vulnerable.

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

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Beware this picture is 30 years old!

So you want to play gigs again. Really! that sounds cool. I think you still have what it takes. I’m sure you are asking yourself, how could I say that? I’ve never heard you play. Passion. It’s because you have a lot of passion and I know that must be in your music. I know you can do it. Go ahead and start gigs again and do something for me while you do it. Enjoy yourself. That’s all for now. I’ll be waiting on you.

(Listen to this piece – really listen to it. Close your eyes.  Put your head back . Tell me what it means to you. Can you tell me what I’m saying?.

I had quit writing music about twelve years ago. I had no more reason to write. I had convinced myself my years of playing professionally were over. I was still teaching, but i played with headphones on so no one would accidentally hear me. I was told my playing might bother people.  I had also been sick for a long time and couldn’t sit up for long. I had nothing to write about. As I began this blog I wanted to play music again. As I healed I started playing my piano more and more. Something had changed, though.  My entire thought process for writing had become something else.  I stopped writing songs and crawled into the music. I started out writing music for Jamie. Music is emotional. Going through these years of keeping him going brought something into my music that wasn’t there before. Now, probably only one day a week, I want to find a nice piano bar or restaurant that would like beautiful music in the background. My days of fronting a band are long over. Now, as you see posts that have music on them you will understand a little more why I insert them.)

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Special Visit For Inmates

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Dear mom, and hello beautiful.

First I want to say thank you.  Thank you for everything. and most of all thank you for going out of your way to bring my son to see me.  First visit in three years, and a special visit at that! Two days. Two days to see my son. No one would bring him but you. To know you cared that much to do this means so much to me. I had a chance to learn a lot more about him as well as being able to enjoy time with him.  I noticed he is very open to people.  He loves to make friends. I was the same way, only the people I chose to be friends with were not friends.  So I will talk to him about that.  I told him he could talk to me about anything. I want us to be able to have a real father son – bond.  I want him to know he can come to me as he grows, and that he can trust me and talk. I feel that we bonded more than at the last visit, but then he is older, turning 10 on July 12.

No, it does not make up for all the time I have missed, but no one thought it was important enough for him or for me to bring him to see me. No one cared about my family, my son – at all. What was most important is we opened up to each other and that is what matters.

We even share smiles. I didn’t show him, but I can do the same tummy rolls he showed me, but I can’t wiggle my ears like he does! Lol.  Everyone has a special talent.  Maybe that is his. We just have to take the time to find out what they are.  I play that visit over and over in my mind as much as I can.

Now I want you to know I enjoyed your visit as well.  Your company really means a lot to me.  Being able to spend two days talking was more than I had hoped for.  I didn’t want to hope too much in case it fell through for some reason.  I loved looking at you ( since we don’t ever get to see a woman that isn’t in a guard uniform and trust me they aren’t much to look at.)  I guess what I’m saying is that I was really watching you.  That is why I wasn’t doing so much talking.  I was just taking it all in and trying to remember everything.  I appreciate everything you have done for me.  Many men in here don’t have someone who has stood by them for ten years  the way you have, no matter what, being there for me when I needed someone.  You trust me when I say I am trying hard to do things right and that I want to have a good life when I get out.

Only you know who I am right now.  However that is fixing to change because I am going to write a few of my family members.  I know they won’t write back.  I just want them to see who I am now. But to tell you the truth they probably won’t pick up on it. All they have to do is read my letter carefully and they will see the different person I am. I want them to know me as a man. I’m not a kid anymore. I want them to know me as an older person.  I never write to them anymore because I feel like I’m just wasting stamps because no one writes back. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I’m getting sleepy so I’ll write more later. . .

 

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

(Sonni’s note:  We don’t appreciate life until we almost lose it. It would be hard to imagine losing ten years of my life to a prison, but in some ways we did the time together.  Not literally, of course.  I have had ten hard years with some pretty hefty mountains to climb and he has been there encouraging me when I needed it most.  When I think about it, he has been there through some  major things, just like I have been there through his. I believe he’s been honest with me about things that have happened and I helped him as much as I could. We’ve become very good friends who impacted each others life.

Does the time go by fast or slow? Do the years just blend together? If he never makes parole, which is a toss up, he still has six and a half years to go.  He is right.  He went in a boy and will come out a 40 year old man and I will be 69. His son will be nearly 17. My husband will be 76.  Life keeps marching on.  Aging in prison is not where you want to age. There has been so much he has had to learn about himself and the biggest thing has been controlling his emotions.  But many people have that problem.  I see it every day.  But if he can learn something that will benefit him later then he can take one good thing from this experience.

There is no way of knowing what kind of life he would have had if this didn’t happen, but I doubt he and my daughter would be together as a family.  I have worked with him teaching him things about life he needed to know, but had no one to teach him. Most of all he needed to know he had someone who believed in him; someone who believed he had special talents, too, who wouldn’t judge him by what he did, but by the potential he possessed. This was a new thought for him,  that there was someone who would help him open the door and reach for better things.  But if you don’t even know what those better things could be, how could you reach for them?  I’m going to be on the better side of old when he gets out.  Life will be completely different than when he went in.  Right now he is inside the forbidden outside.  Later he will be outside and life will be challenging.  I believe he will have a better life than he would have had he not gone in.  There is a positive inside every negative.  He will have to find out what that is.)

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When I Get Out Of Prison

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Dear mom,

How are you?  Fine, I hope and getting some rest. However, knowing you, you are work work working on everything. Do me a favor and take a break okay? Enjoy what time you have to yourself. Sit outside and enjoy the little things, like the flowers, the sky’s view, the air and everything in view.

(Sonni’s note: Jamie is thinking of me being able to enjoy all the things he is unable to see. He doesn’t even have a window in his cell or AC in this hot Tx summer, yet he worries about  me.)

I have been sitting here thinking hard about the questions you asked in your last letter but I have yet to come up with anything. You asked me what I thought I’d like to do when I get out prison. I have yet to come up with anything because I don’t know what will happen. However, I do know this. I want to be able to live my life and be able to take care of my family. What matters the most is my son. Most of my life I have lived in the system due to poor choices I made in my life. My future is my son. I don’t want his future being anything like this. It’s going to be hard, you and I both know this.

A lot of people knew me as Jamie, the boy. It’s been years since I just talked to anybody. In fact, I don’t talk to anyone about life but you. We are the only ones who conversates this way. No one else has tried to spark up a conversation about life. If it’s family, it’s just about what’s going on. I know most of the news I would get from my family is going to be bad. Maybe a little good news here and there. It’s the main reason I stopped writing. When I did write, no one wrote back. I have addresses to some people but I don’t write anymore. My mom moves so much I don’t know where she is. I don’t worry. I know how she is from a lifetime of experiences.

I have confidence in myself that when I get out of here I can take care of what I need to do. I intend to live a good life. Yes, there will be curves and hills. One step at a time. There will be lots to learn no master what. It’s for me to do my best and keep my son from this. My goal is to express my life to my son. I also need to express to my mother about how I felt as a young kid. To tell you the truth, I know it will hurt because it hurts me when I think about it. When I think about a lot of stuff that has to do with family, it hurts. There is not too much I can remember to be happy about. Just a very little. I try not to think about it. I try not to think of things from the past. But don’t worry. The truth is, everything will be okay.

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Some people can not take the pressure but I have been under pressure for ten years. Fourteen, counting juvy. I have had a few melt downs, but I have come to understand that I have to have self control. Without it I have to constantly start over and never get anywhere in life. I have learned to accept some things and move on. Yes, I still get angry, but I just speak my mind. I don’t act on things like I used to. I don’t give these people a reason to get back at me.

Give your mother my love and tell her I’m chanting for her ( she had a stroke).

With love, Jamie

p.s. Is 2:44 am – very early in the morning. I better get this ready to go.

(Sonni’s note:  Looking back over all these years of letter writing, this blog, and the book being written, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”, I see a different Jamie as he matures. At times I have been very worried, trying to break through when I thought he was giving up because the anger was so strong. But he has learned much through his study of Nichiren Buddhism about the power of the Law of Cause and Effect – or, you reap what you sow – if you are Christian – it is the same thing. For every action there is a reaction and WE determine what that is. I sense a maturity now in Jamie, and I can’t wait until he has the opportunity to  have a life he doesn’t even know how to dream about yet.)

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The Value Of a Prison Letter

        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.

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http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
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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!)