One Foot After The Other (and Don’t Look Back)

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The only legacy of real value you leave behind when you leave this earth is the effect you had on other people. It is powerful because you can change lives – for the better or for the worse. Affecting someone’s life means they will affect others. Lift them up or drag them down. In that way you live on through others long after you are gone.

What you do, say and think always has a consequence. We see that work in a negative way when parents, teachers and preachers teach children to be prejudiced and judgemental toward others in many ways. They grow up to be racist adults, or teens who bully classmates they think are inferior. They were taught to think like that.

Instead, think about how you want to affect the world around you. Take responsibility for all you do and don’t blame others for your life. This is what I have taught Jamie. He is responsible for his life as we all are. I have tried to show him through example. I’ve tried to teach him what he had no chance learn going through his youth. I’m sure his mother loved him. That love is unconditional, but we can only teach what we know.

The more you give the more you get. You reap what you sow – what goes around comes around, no matter what faith you practice. I practice Nichiren Buddhism. It has taught me more about myself than any other teaching. It taught me compassion for all people, not just people you decide is worthy based on your chosen faith. It taught me how to live and I’m still alive – so I can finish what I’ve started.

Life has been upside down the past few months. I didn’t have time to put out a newsletter  because there are only so many hours in a day. Many people have followed the blog at My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison and read blog posts about the reality of prison and how it affected his Jamie’s state of mind. I hope to think that being there for him and  knowing someone cared, helped him get through days when he felt like giving up. He couldn’t understand why his family wasn’t there to help him go through the extreme loneliness of a prison cell.

When I tried to encourage letters and explained to his family how lost Jamie felt I was told, “Just because he got hisself in trouble doesn’t mean my life stopped.”

I was then told, ” I’m not going to answer this because you’re really starting to piss me off.”

“My telling you the truth pisses you off?” I replied. “If I am wrong about any of this, please tell me where.”

“Really, it’s not your concern,” I was told. “Jamie lies a lot.”
That’s a good one. It’s hard to keep a lie going for ten years, especially when there is no reason.

“It is my concern,” I replied. “Tell me what the lie is.”

Silence

I couldn’t understand that attitude. This came from a blog post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” These excerpts were taken from that post. It still brings me to tears. I was helping his brother and for that I got slapped down. How dare I care. He’s the father of my grandson but his welfare was not my concern. 

I do not write about this in the book. I don’t say how I feel. The book isn’t about them. The most I say is how lonely he is not understanding why no one writes to him and I don’t mention any names.

Trying to finish the book and making the money to pay an editor has been a challenge. Opening an online store to make money has been fun – but more expensive than I thought. I didn’t know what I was doing. I paid marketing companies for guidance. I worked it and now I think I have a nice looking store with good products and I work on getting it in front of people every day. Slowly sales are picking up. Now I’m building a new website around the store that will have more to offer than just items to buy to give it value. I’ve learned, though, that making money the first year in business is difficult. Just staying afloat with enough sales to cover overhead eats up the most of the hours in my day and all of the profit. Most business apps have monthly fees. There are fees on top of fees.

My health is declining. I’ve been fighting for more life for 20 years when Hep C was diagnosed. Everything that could go wrong, has. I was stupid in my early 20’s and through a boyfriend I did IV drugs. It didn’t last long, but it was too late. But everything happens for a reason. What has it taught me about myself? So much. Symptoms started in my mid 30’s. I have fought hard to stay alive and today cancer is showing its head – again –

Radiation on my head after ear removal

The ugly scar you can see part of near the bottom of the photo toward the left is a botched skin graft that was supposed to heal into a thin line that eventually would fade. It is 6 months old and painful to touch because it cut into nerves. It’s more than 3″ long and still inflamed. The Dr wants to shoot a bunch of needles off cortisone into it. That will be painful. The red ball on top of my ear that looks like a wad of gum is where my ear was cut off. The skin graft was supposed be fashioned into a place my glasses arm could rest. A kinda sorta ear . There is nowhere now to put an arm from glasses. The bandaid is the biopsy site where the lump is. But hey! My hair color is real!

I’ve had several issues with cancer. Liver cancer and skin cancer – common with liver transplant patients. Which was in 2012. In Oct 2018  I had skin cancer and a pie wedge was cut out of one ear. It didn’t stop in January I ended up the top half of that ear cut off. “I am confident I got it all,” the Dr said. But he didn’t. I had radiation and it burnt off the hair on the side of the head. It didn’t stop it. Now it is spreading  internally and I have a lump on my neck. On July 15th I am having surgery – a neck dissection – to cut out all of the lymph nodes on the side and back of my neck and more radiation. If it spread further then it’s chemo time. My body can’t fight it because I’m on anti- rejection meds to suppress my immune system to keep the liver. I have lived so far for a reason.

My transplant doctor told me they lose more transplant patients because of squamous cell carcinoma than anything else. The fight is on.

I say this only because. . . I don’t know why I’m saying it other than it has complicated my life further and I’m trying to figure out where to put it in my head. I spent 12 years writing to him and 3.5 years writing this book and recording the music and videos to promote it. It’s given me a reason to keep going. I have to finish it.

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I wanted to write this book for the many people who have been through prison and understand the psychological effects of long term isolation. I want the profit from the sale of the book to help Jamie start his life again and be a father to his son, my grandson. Certain people have tried to turn this into something ugly. People enjoy negative gossip. They have no idea what this book is about. They have never read it or asked about it, but they’ve known I’ve been writing it.

Now Jamie is out, and the book isn’t complete yet. I need money and I’m stressing over the lack of it. I need to pay professional editors to work with me. This is why I started the store. Thank goodness he didn’t have to do the entire sentence and was paroled four years early. Now he can see his son, his only child.

I had just finished radiation from the last surgery and I couldn’t be there when he got out. No one was there. For thirteen years he was “Inside The Forbidden Outside. ” It was his first time being on the outside and he had to take a bus to his brother’s house. He had no way to call me even if he could. I was on a train headed back home because I found a lump on my neck.

A friend of 40 years, another musician, also a Nichiren Buddhist (and my 2nd ex-husband) suggested I start a gofundme campaign. It is really hard to ask for money. He told me there would be people who understood. I was amazed because I already have had a couple contributions. If you read the campaign you’ll see I will be sending them a free copy of the book and music when it’s published.

I estimate I have about 6 chapters to rewrite. This is the 2nd draft. With a story editor to guide me I’m sure there will be revisions. I can’t put out a book that is less than professional. There is also sequel planned, because this book only goes in time from 2006 to 2016. The sequel picks up there and goes through getting out and re-entry. Cancer isn’t going to stop me from finishing. But maybe, because of what is happening I should extend the chapters beyond 2016.

A BIT OF JAMIE’S EARLY LIFE, BEFORE PRISON.

To understand Jamie’s story a little more if you haven’t been to the blog and read the pages at the top ot any early affiliates

Jamie  spent so much of his life removed from society, never learning how life works. Four years in juvenile detention starting late in his 16th year, to keep his little brother from being sentenced after hitting a cop with a broom when he forced his way into their home. The cop knocked down their mother and broke her wrist. They wanted to send a little boy to juvenile detention for defending his mother because someone needed to be responsible and it just wasn’t going to be the cop. There have been many articles in the media showing cops doing the exact same thing to other families, but back then in the late ’90s the internet wasn’t what it is today.

The attorney convinced Jamie to do his brother’s nine month sentence, except they had no intention of letting him leave until he was 21. By then he was so depressed he was kept in a different facility far from home for incarcerated youth with mental issues. Epileptic seizures and having no family near was wrong.  He lost the rest of his youth and high school years. When was he supposed to develope the wisdom and social skills he needed to understand to get through life. Who were the right people to be friends with? So he picked the wrong people to be friends with. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends put him in prison before his son was born. I took care of my daughter until my grandson was a year old when she left to go back to Texas.

I helped Jamie through his prison sentence because everyone in his life who should have been there for him – wasn’t. No one helped him after the first year.  Letters and visits were as rare as snowstorms are in Texas. Money for things he needed, such as stamps and hygiene products or paying his medical fees were paid by me as well as books to read, extra food, ( he’s a big man) and even candy to bribe the guards.

Our letters are a journey through what went on his head. The emotional toll. He suffered through the heat with no air conditioning – summers when he passed out from the heat, and when guards cuffed his wrists and legs during a seizure, or when 5 guards picked him up and rammed his head into a wall or wouldn’t let him see a dentist when his impacted wisdom teeth got infected.

I will be there for him to lean on until his knowledge and experiencecatches up with his 36 years and he is a confident, strong man with a life of purpose.

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Eyes In The Back of My Head – ITFO Chapter

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Eyes in The Back of My Head

 

There was a murder in the shower. A dude was stabbed twenty-seven times by his cellmate. Jamie was blown away. It was going too far. This could happen to anyone in here if they got on the wrong side of someone else. Punishment was dished out the way anyone thought it should be. Lots of these dudes had been screwed by the justice system, so they were going to give justice the way they saw fit.
     There was so much violence in this prison. No prison is a good prison but he heard dudes talk about this prison being one of the worst. The guards were corrupt and in business with the gangs. They make the inmates fight each other and bet on who will be left standing. He should be getting used to this by now, but he wasn’t. He didn’t want to get mixed up in it but they don’t let that happen. He was a big guy and he knew how to fight. He tried to stay by himself as much as possible. The last thing he wanted was to get more time added to his sentence, and they would do that in a heart beat if the wrong person saw a fight going down.
     Eyes in the back of his head were what he needed. He couldn’t trust nobody to have his back. More than half the dudes in here had some sort of weapon and they wouldn’t hesitate to use it if they felt threatened.
     Drugs were involved in everything. It’s how money was made on both sides of the fence. The quantity and variety of drugs coming through here was crazy. Pills, weed, heroin; you name it, it’s in here. There was more drugs in here than a crack house on a street corner, and just as easy to get – if you have the money. If you don’t, and you don’t pay up, that could get you killed.
     It comes in packed along with supplies and the staff that worked in the kitchen or handled other supplies for the prison made sure it got to the right people. That wasn’t the only way it came in. Visitors smuggled it in, too. Some got caught and some didn’t. It’s not worth the risk. If you were an addict you’d probably think different.
     On top of that, some of the men made their own wine. Five dudes recently got caught who were stupid drunk on their assess. Getting drunk wasn’t worth the possibility of getting caught with it, trying to escape reality. Whether inside or out when you didn’t like your life, drugs and alcohol gave you a false sense of a better world for a short time. Then you come down and you’re still living in the same screwed up place. People die of overdosing in here the same as on the street. He wasn’t tempted to do drugs, at least chemical ones that mixed with his seizure meds. That was dangerous. He didn’t mind a little weed, though, but in here you don’t know what you’re getting and there is some bad shit going around that really messes you up. The dude who killed his cellie in the shower was drunk when he did it. What happened that he needed to kill him over it? This wasn’t like the free world. No one thought about consequences. They reacted to what happened right that minute and didn’t care because they were already locked up.
     Without a courtroom the men acted as the judge, jury and executioner in a much worse way than the courts could impose. It took very little for someone to decide you needed to die and you ended up with a knife across your throat. He wanted to be transferred somewhere else, but he didn’t see that coming anytime soon. In the meantime he needed to be careful.

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Jamie was lucky. He had a window in this cell. sometimes he didn’t and never what time of day it was. It was suffocating. Sometimes he went a long time without breathing any fresh air. He couldn’t see much of anything out the window. He doubted if it had ever been cleaned. Still, when he closed his eyes he could feel light on his face when he closed his eyes and he could pretend he was anywhere but where he was.
     Summer would be on them really quick. Right now it was the time of year when it wasn’t to hot or too cold. It wouldn’t last. In Texas the summers were killers, and every year more people died. There was always talk about how that needed to be fixed, usually around an election time, but nothing was ever done about it. They weren’t going to spend money they would rather put in their pockets.
     It was going to be hard. There was nothing he could do but try to get through it. He dreaded this time of year. He had lived in Texas his whole life so he should be used to it. The difference was he couldn’t step through a door into air conditioning and find relief, except if he had to go to the medical unit.
     Things weren’t looking up for him. He feels like he’s in a no-win situation between a few of the guards and inmates. If he wasn’t careful it could get him getting killed in the shower, too.
     He had reason to be scared because these guards will let the inmates beat you up, or beat you up themselves. There was a fine line between guards and criminals that was crossed all the time. So it was really not guaranteed he would someday go home. He tried not to think about that, but it could happen.
     Wanting to be with his family was the only thing that got him through the day. He promised himself he would never give up, even though he was hurting inside. There were a lot of corners to turn and hills to climb but that it was part of his life now and he had to find a way to get through it.

Jamie decided to stay in his cell today. He had little to do except have conversations with himself. He was doing his best to stay away from trouble but it managed to find him if he left his cell. He didn’t have anything to read he hadn’t read countless times already. He was restless. Sitting on his bunk he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep for awhile and kill some time.
     “It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it?” Jamie kept his eyes closed and smiled. He was starting to like this. It was good timing, he needed someone to talk to.
     He cocked his head to the right and opened his eyes.
     “I can only take so much,” he said, answering her question.
     Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail that went almost to her waist. It looked good on her. She stood there looking at him, wearing jeans and her hands were on  her hips. She was smiling. He never realized before how valuable a smile was ’cause he sure didn’t get many. She might be Morgan’s mom but they sure didn’t look anything alike. They were both beautiful in their own way.
     Suddenly he realized, if he was making all this up in his head he sure did have a good imagination, didn’t he? In a way he wished others could see her, to prove he wasn’t nuts, but maybe it was better this way.
     Jamie thought about the three years they had been writing.  He never really understood why she started writing to him after he had been inside almost two years, but he was glad she did. When he asked her, she said he was family, but after getting to know her she knew no one else was writing to him, so she did.
     She sent books, a little money, and their friendship grew from there. He hated to ask her for money, but she was the only one who would help him. She didn’t make him feel like he was begging. He was grateful for everything she did, but he didn’t want anyone to think he was using her, especially Morgan. She told him not to feel like that. She helped him out because she wanted to. She sends what she can when she can.
     Her letters kept him going. She was his connection to the outside world. He didn’t know if he would make it if she stopped writing. He knew people had their own lives and were busy surviving. He didn’t blame them for not having time for him. He didn’t need anyone to write all the time. The occasional letter he did get was about what was happening to whom, but no one asked him how he was doing or if he needed anything. If you don’t ask you don’t know. Gradually even those letters faded away .
     Jamie needed her, and she knew it. When she wrote it was like a conversation back and forth. She cared how he was doing. Apart from the mental need, if she didn’t help him get things like stamps and hygiene he’d have to find some other way to get them. He might end up owing someone and maybe that would not end too good. In addition, she was a sight for sore eyes, even if she wasn’t real.
     “I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to handle the situations I have on my hands right now and what to do about it.” Jamie told her.
     “What’s the problem?” she asked.
     “I can’t sit in my cell 24/7. In fact, I’m not going to,” he said, making up his mind.
     “Why do you think you need to stay in your cell?” not understanding the problem.
     “If I can’t talk to these dudes about the problem we’re having then there’s only one solution.
     She wasn’t going to like this. “I hate to go back down that road but I might have to. I’ve had two fights already and the way things are going there could be plenty more to come.”
     “That’s what they do in here – fight,” he told her.
She paused for a few seconds and frowned.
     “That’s the way karma works,” she began.
     “Causes made in the past come into play today, or in your future,” she gently explained. “When a cause is made there is going to an effect at some point, for all the good and all the bad that has happened. The same is true for everyone. No one – gets away – with anything.”
     Jamie got up and went to his locker. He sorted through a stack of letters until he found the one he was looking for.
     Taking it out of the envelope and reading through it, he stopped and looked at her, “It’s true what you said,” he paused.

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End of partial chapter. Subscribe to ITFO News to read more. From today’s date though one week I will automatically send it. Older subscribers or ones past the end of the month. Shoot me a message and write: Send “Eyes in the Back of My Head” 

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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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I Will Not Let Them Break Me

 

wh jamie2I’d like to bring you up to date with the writing of my book, Inside the Forbidden Outside, because I sure have been writing it for a long time. It should be 500 pages by now!

I have read ads that say ” Write a book from start to finish in 30 days!” Really? I guess you could if you had a vivid imagination creating stories, edited it yourself and did no rewriting. But I am not creating this story out of thin air and the writing has taken time because the story is important and I really knew nothing about being a writer, except for blog posts.

My first draft, and those chapters can be read going back I the archives to 2016, was like a book of blog posts. The chapters didn’t connect as a story. So I went back to the drawing board and started over while talking a couple writing courses.

Writing the music for the chapters, poetry, and music videos is also very time consuming so it all goes forward at a slower pace. The music was written because of the letters I read from him. They were often sad and melancholy. The music is the emotion just like music sets the stage for movies to create an emotion.

I wanted to tell you what I’m doing now to bring authenticity to what T am doing. The first two years he was inside we didn’t write. I only heard what was happening through my daughter. That is why I sent the first card.  He told me about his life until that point. I had to take actual events and create story around it. In the narrative I reached the point where we are writing. After reading his letters I felt I had to write his story.  Not because it was happening to him, but because it is a common story shared by many. America still isn’t listening and many believe the propaganda they read in the news saying black people are bent to be criminals and they need to locked up.  They don’t belong in restaurants, coffee shops, on the street, the mall or in any store among “us”, the white people. Call the cops. Have them arrested. They don’t deserve to breathe “our” air. Go away. Shame on any American who believes that. Unfortunately, the number of people like this outnumber the people who are actually human and don’t feel entitled because of the color of our skin.

I recently unpacked two boxes that hold hundreds of letters Jamie wrote me began sorting them by the prison and then putting them in date order. Most of my letters to him are online at a website called Jpay. But many early letters we’re handwritten so I have no record of those. As time went on I almost always used Jpay because many handwriting can get illegible when I write fast.

I have just spent 28 hours over two days reading every letter he wrote, and mine in between and pieced the narrative together. The story that emerged with the dialogue already written made me cry. The pain of coping in such an inhumane existence with the authority of the prisons dishing out, with pleasure, anything they wanted to ensure the prisoners know their lives are meaningless. Their only value is to enough various corporations who use them for profit, much the way plantations did for 400 years. Free labor on top of everything.  Of course they want the prisons to be full. Jamie did not deserve what they have done to him, and continue to do, but of course, he is black so it doesn’t matter.

Countless times over the years they have denied Jamie his seizure medication for epilepsy. They also often deny him being able to see a doctor, unless he is bleeding from falling and cutting himself when he has a seizure. So often the medical unit would lie to me about what condition he is in.

Think about this – Allred prison has approximately 3500 inmates. Let’s say half of them take one pill of a prescription each day.  That is an extremely low estimate. Now, lets say that each of those inmates were skipped one day a month and not given one pill.  That equals 1750 pills. What is the financial value to the medical corporation by holding back one pill each month? Since pills are often given in multiples twice a day and inmates often take more than one medicine, what is the real number? Jamie is often skipped for days at a time, not one pill on one day. So he has more epileptic seizures they rarely monitor. And yet people get sarcastic online quipping about the wonderful free medical care inmates get which is better than what they get. Propaganda can be very powerful in forming your indignant opinions for you. Anyone want to sign up for prison healthcare?

But he is a fighter, pulling himself out of depression when he hits rock bottom over and over again. The last time, in March when he was denied – again – being let out of adseg, he was told he wasn’t ready. Ready in what way? They didn’t manage to break him yet? Over three years, this time, and they said he wasn’t ready. He went into depression again, but fought back with a vengeance. “I will not let them break me!”

I have now everything I need to finish writing, with notes from every letter. This is the story of man who was intentionally fed to the system, while they have done everything they could to render him unable to survive.

He entered the system a Christian because it was all he knew. He then tried becoming a Muslim, a tight-knit community inside that teaches peace and discipline. No, it isn’t the picture our media and government portrays that to be Muslim means you are a terrorist. He reached the point where he said. “Religion has done nothing to help me in here. No amount of praying to God or having faith that things will get better has helped anything get better.” He thought his faith should have some effect, and it didn’t.

It was then, when he was of options that I began teaching him the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. It put the responsibility of his life and understanding it squarely where it belonged. In his own hands and mind. This is where he got the strength to say, “They will not break me.” He wasn’t asking anything outside himself to fix his problems. He took responsibility.

This is a story of a man who is making his way through this system and growing as an individual instead of feeling he is a victim. I hope you continue to read about the progress of writing this and listen to the music I’ve recorded to be his soundtrack. Subscribe to ITFO News to not miss anything.

Last, I am having T- shirts made with the silhouette at the top of the post and his signature beneath. I need to raise money to help him. I have been using legal measures to fight some of what they are doing and those things are being put in place right now. Legal documents cost money.  Attorney consultations cost money. Enforcing those documents cost even more. But every bit of medical care they deny him puts more money in their pocket.

I’m hoping that people who know his story will want to help if they can. This is my first time of asking for help and I am the only one who supports him. In the next few weeks when the t-shirts come in I will write again. Thanks for reading. I couldn’t do this without you and the encouragement you’ve given me.

 

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Letter to Jamie 2012 – Waiting For Liver Transplant

Sonni Quick April 2017

Many of you know I am doing a rewrite of Inside The Forbidden Outside, What a journey this has been since I decided Jamie’s story needed to be written.  It is not because his story is so unusual, but because there are so many people who have lived the same story.  There are different characters but the underlying theme is the same.  People need to better understand this story because too many still say the line, “If he did the crime he needs to do the time.” How do they know if he did the crime?  How do they know the underlying reason why so many live this story? 

If someone only listened to or read mainstream propaganda, which is getting worse, why would they believe anything to the contrary? They might also believe the white race is more deserving, privileged, more intelligent and less likely to do drugs or commit crimes, especially since there are so many more people of color in the prisons than white people. No part of that statement is true. Many white people can’t stand the thought they aren’t superior to other colors.  When a race has been trampled on as much as the black race and other minorities are catching up, there is an all out effort to keep white prison corporations as rich as possible off the backs of people they don’t like to continue this false illusion.

But wanting to write a book is not as easy as knowing how to spell and where to put a period.  It has taken me a couple years of writing and studying to get this far. Working with a story editor this time has given me a much better grip on what I’m doing. Anyone can self publish an inferior product and not be able to sell their book, but this is far too important to not do the best I can.

Since no one sees every post I put out, and if you are interested in what I’m doing, please subscribe to my newsletter below.  I put out an issue about once a month on different justice issues with an update on the book.  I don’t send you several emails a day like some do.  I hate that.  I also don’t have time to do that.

I am combing through 4-500 letters Jamie and I have exchanged to pull out the most important ones to use. These letters are like a diary that hold his growth into a man and our growth in communication. His effect on my life has been tremendous.  It has also been a two-way street. We would not have made it this far without each other.

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sick me
I’m sitting on pillows because of bedsores. I couldn’t walk by myself. My husband took me outside each day because it was Spring. Clogs were the only thing I could get my feet into

To explain where this letter is in time, I had moved from Key West, FL to Pa in August 2010 to get on the liver transplant list at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. My local Dr couldn’t help me anymore. My body had swelled with fluid and I looked like a beached whale.  They couldn’t tap me anymore to drain fluid because it was everywhere, even in my skin.  I already had two tumors in my liver and if I developed a third they would take me off the list and tell me to have a nice life. I won’t get into the details because it is fairly gross. When the liver became available the Drs told my husband, but not me, that I literally had days to live. I was bedridden and couldn’t type or hold a pen or feed myself,  but I had a laptop beside me and I typed letters with one finger.  I had no doubt I’d be okay.  I still had too much to do. Jamie’s letters were a major source of encouragement. The transplant took place July 2nd of this same year.

 

 

Date:   1/11/2012 12:12:59 PM
Sent To:        JAMES CUMMINGS

Dearest Jamie – life always goes up and down. Even for people who think they have everything so many of them aren’t happy, get depressed, and feel as though they have problems they will never get out of. But it is really all in the mind and how you view things will determine how you feel. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you. I can’t imagine having a family who cares so little and who will think only of themselves when you get out and how hard it was for THEM. Rise above. Develop an inner strength that will see you through the tough times. For Xmas I am going to get you a subscription to a weekly newspaper that I read. You will understand better what I am saying. It is all about having hope. You know I am not a Christian. I am a Buddhist. The philosophies are very different. We don’t pray to an outside source to change things for us. We learn to change from the inside out. Every day I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It is time for you to try something different to help you figure out your life. You tried going to church.  You tried Islam. Nothing gave you the answers you were looking for. Now it is time to help you find them. I promise you this will change your life. Here is how to sound it out. If you counted to six evenly over and over you would have the rhythm. One- two -three- four- five- six. In music it is called 6/8 time.

1.Nam ( the a is pronounced like ahh) It doesn’t matter if it is pronounced right or not.
2.myo ( like a cat’s meow but with and o ) It is the attempt that matters.
3.ho Try to say it a hundred times. When you get comfortable
4.ren- ( like rent ) with it, direct your mind to pray for what you need.
5.ge ( like gay ) Jamie, I would not have been doing this for 24 years for no
6.kyo (like myo ) reason. The more you chant, the better. I have often chanted for 3 or more hours at a time. You will feel better and your head will feel better. People will notice the change.

You are such a worthwhile person. Some days it is hard. There is good and evil. Things will happen to try and make you stop. Don’t let anyone stop you. It isn’t easy doing this through the mail, but when you start getting the World Tribune and read and learn, it will make more and more sense. This is the best present I can give you.

I’m doing a little better every day. The pain is decreasing and the excess fluid is going down from the new medication. Mike said I look like a drill sargent since I don’t have much hair except for a little buzz on the top! It used to be down to my waist. Oh well . . . it grows back. I don’t want anymore chemo that is for sure. It was that procedure that I think gave me the infection I had. But at least they caught before I got any sicker. I do have good drs. Thank goodness I have medicaid. I can’t imagine what 3 days at Hershey Med costs. Probably more than I make, or used to make in a year. So, next stop – transplant here I come!!

Little Jamie will never hate you. He doesn’t really understand, but children are very forgiving. He only wants his daddy. I was lucky for Xmas because I still had quite a few toys and books left from closing the store. I knew Megan had no money so I wanted to make sure everyone had 3 or 4 presents under the tree – including Megan. I gave Jamie a 3-D puzzle of a pirate ship that Alex helped him with. I think that was the best thing for him. It wasn’t just a toy to play with and then forget about. He could be proud that he helped make it. I had puzzles for 3 yr olds that was good for Cozmo. I got clothing for Alex and Alyssa – important things in school. Can you believe that Alex will be 15 on March 2?? He has grown to be a good kid. Meg has always been a strict disciplinarian and it is paying off – even if her daughter hates her at least every other day!

Megan has not forgotten you even though it often feels that way. She gets so quiet when I talk about you. Afraid to think too far into the future.

I won’t let you give up, Jamie, that’s the way I am. You can tell me when you feel bad. I would carry your burden if I could. Lots of love, Mom

p.s. Sounds like you had a great xmas meal. It makes the little things so appreciated. I wish you could get care boxes.
Also – I am going to pay off your med fee. It doesn’t give you any money yet, but toward the end of the month I’ll put a little on your account so you can get some things you need.

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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.

time-cover

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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Finally Going To The Prison To See Jamie!

There is a letter below I wrote to Jamie some time ago. It isn’t dated, but it was within the last two years. I was going through documents. For those of you who have read his letters or even some of the ones I posted that are mine, have commented on our relationship. You can’t write such personal letters to someone for this many years and not care about them. When the only communication you can have is the written word you learn a lot about each other.

This coming Wednesday I am finally taking a trip to Texas and I will be taking Jamie’s son to see him. He hasn’t seen him in almost 3 years – the last time I visited. He probably got my letter today where I told him I’m coming down. I wish I could have been there when he got the letter just to see the happiness on his face! I was hoping I could get new pictures but they only have a photographer one day in a month and it won’t be when I am there.

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

Dear Jamie,
You and I – all these years behind us – our writing was never based on sex. It has always been been about friendship and being there for you because your family never was. You have always been behind bars. So we never had a fight or a break up and get back together the way every other relationship does. We haven’t hurt each other. We haven’t been judgemental. It was very rare to even see each other – only one time. But I know Jamie, as much as I have ever known anything, that I do love you, because you can’t write to someone for that long and not care. We have had these years of writing and getting to know each other. It was never about sex and romance.  It has been about two people who have been there for each other when we needed it. We both knew what it felt like to be abandoned by the very people you would expect to care and that is hard to deal with.

You in prison and me out here – it doesn’t matter what we look like. It doesn’t matter how old we are. It doesn’t matter that I am 9 years older than your mother. I know you – the man. I know your hurts. I know your desires. You can be honest with me about anything. You can tell me when you fail. You can tell me when you win, because underlying the whole thing is that I care very much that you succeed. I want you to get out of there and have a life you enjoy and are proud of. And I know that is going to be very hard because you won’t know what to do. It will be like getting out and no one speaks English and no one understands what you are saying. It will be very frustrating – and angering – because you will want respect and people are not going to want to give it to you. I understand because it is the same thing I go through with my family and it hurts. But it won’t put me in prison. You? It could, if you are not very very careful. But how can you know what to do when you don’t know what to do? It’s a vicious circle. This is why I stress that you have to be working on this now – not when you get out, or that swinging door will hit you in the ass and knock you back inside. Beyond baking you a cake, your family will not help you.

I am working hard to help you become the man you are inside that no one else sees.  I am working to make your life respectable and help you create a life inside this book I’m writing that will hopefully give you the support of people who will know who you are before you ever walk out those doors.reap what you sow

I am here for you to lean on so you don’t feel alone. This is the kind of love two people have when the desire for sex wears off – it always wears off. People start their relationship on how good the sex is but when they get bored they break up and find other people.  This happens because they didn’t take the time to learn how to communicate and be honest with each other.  I’m getting old and will be quite old when you get out. If I were younger it would be different. It’s really kind of a shame in some ways, but in a good way it doesn’t run through the negatives like jealousy and insecurity or wondering if the other person is cheating on them. It surpasses all that. I continue to use “mom” and “son” in my letters because people reading the blog would never be able to understand. I play the role of what a mother should be doing for you and isn’t. Your mother loves you because she gave birth to you – but she doesn’t know you nor does she understand how her lack of being there for you has affected you. This is why – all those years ago when I realized you had no one to count on – I jumped in there to fill that empty space. You had been through too much in your life and I was afraid you wouldn’t make it. Most everyone wondered, “Why do you even care?”  It’s because that is the way I am. If I were to describe my personality – I am a “fixer” with an addictive personality. That means when I do something – I do it completely, no matter what it is. I see things through to the end.

encouragement, grief, oevercoming obastacles

It was something about you. There was a reason that brought us into each others life and I believe it isn’t the first time. You and I are continuing on a path we’ve been on before or I wouldn’t have this intense desire/need to make sure you are okay. This need to help teach you what you need to know to change this path for yourself. This urgency to keep telling you that you have to take control and make your life go in the direction you want it to instead of letting life slap you around. That is love, Jamie. I want you to have a better life.  There is a positive inside every negative so even this time in prison has a positive inside it if you learn the meaning of why it happened to you.

Do you not think I have smiled and wished my life wasn’t going by as fast as it is – and inside my head I think I’m still 30. My brain thinks it but every day when I look in the mirror I go yuck – another wrinkle! My hair is starting to thin along my forehead. My skin is starting to get that crepe paper feel to it. I’m not 30 anymore. But the heart has no age. It gets bigger and it lets in more people. You can love someone and it doesn’t exclude another person and kick him out. You know, Mike and I have been married for quite a few years. We love each other. I know how much he loves me, because what we have now is far beyond the physical. We have friendship, the caring, the conversation, we have the same interests, I love to cook for him, and I know he loves me and I can count on him being there. What I want is for you to do -eventually – after you get your life together — find a woman and have a family – and if she did anything to hurt you she’d have to deal with me! lol. You deserve to have a full relationship with someone while you are still young enough to enjoy it

Mike is finally starting to understand my relationship with you. He watched a movie about a man in prison for life. This man, growing up, every day his father beat him and told him he did it because he loved him, so he learned that love was about how much pain he could make people feel. He grew up and become a very angry man. He killed a woman and child. In prison he was contacted by the woman’s mother and over time they developed a relationship. The man said, “For the first time I knew what love was. This woman should hate me for what I did. He cried”. He was speaking directly to the camera and cried.  I looked at Mike and said to him, “Do you understand now?” (meaning you) He said, “Yes, that is why I showed you this.” His attitude about prisoners – once a loser, always a loser – was wrong. He knows that now. You can’t automatically decide someone isn’t worth it just because they are sitting in a prison cell. You are human, and I couldn’t care less that you are in prison, as far as judging you as a person. It doesn’t affect how I feel about you. And Mike, my husband, is not worried about my relationship with you. Why – because he understands the value of our relationship – his and mine – and yours and mine.

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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
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!)