Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Resolve to Stay the Course.

In a little over a week, it will be the 6th anniversary of my mother's passing. She died November 9th, 2005 at exactly 9:02pm at the age of 60 and I have missed her every day since. This year is especially difficult for me because my husband is not here with me and he can't call me to tell me he loves me and that everything is going to be alright. I can't see his handsome face and the way he smiles at me that lets me know that it will be.

Growing up in a single parent home as the oldest of three children was not an easy thing. Great things are expected of you whether you want it or not. Maturity comes quickly along with responsibility that you are, more often than not, not ready for. Your childhood is not your own when you have to change diapers at five years old and feed your baby brother while your mother works to put food on the table.

Don't get me wrong, my mother worked hard. We may not have had the brand names that everyone else had, but we never went without. We were never hungry. We always had what we needed even if it wasn't what we wanted. Milk bags covered our shoes in our boots but our feet were never wet and never cold. My mother was at every single one of my school sporting events. She always brought juice and gum for the whole team. She sat in the front row at graduation and she stood up when they called my name. My mother wasn't the touchy feely type that hugged and kissed you all the time but in her own way she let you know she loved you.

On November 14, 2005 I did something that I never thought I would do. I wrote my mother's eulogy. It was, by far the hardest thing I have ever done, or at least I thought it was. The hardest thing I would ever do would come five short years later when I would have to say goodbye to my husband. He would be taken back to Texas and it would be then that our commitment to each other would be tested and tested hard. One thing we have always known and that is we will always be we and no distance, no matter how far, will ever break that.

So, on November 9, while I will miss my mother just like I have every day for the last six years, I will miss my husband more.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My hero!

The week is nearly over which, for some, is a good thing and for the most part it is for me as well. It means that my husband is one week closer to coming home but with the weekend approaching it is also somewhat bittersweet because that means no mail. Mail in Canada only runs Monday to Friday.

I can't tell you how much getting letters from my husband means to me. It keeps me close to him. I think in some ways letters are better than phone calls. Sure calls are wonderful because I actually get to hear my husband's voice but our time is limited to five minutes. Letters give us both the luxury of time; time to think about each other completely and totally. It's an all encompassing feeling to just focus on each other for as long as it takes to say what needs to be said.

In a letter that I recently received from my husband, he talked about his love for me, his commitment to me and to our children and to our life. He told me how proud he is of me and that I just may very well be his hero. Hero? I can honestly tell you that was one of the most overwhelming things he has ever said to me.What my husband doesn't seem to realize is that HE is the hero of this family. He is the one doing time and being subjected to the most humiliating and demoralizing situations one can imagine. He is the one being treated as less than a human being. But he is also the one rising above all that is thrown at him and he is doing his time his way. In my eyes, he will always be my hero.

To others, my husband may come across as this big Texas bad ass, hard right to the core, but to me he will always be the man that holds my heart in the palm of his hand and you know what? It's never felt safer.

Promises made. Promises kept.

Today when I got home from work, there were two letters waiting for me on the table. That's what I like to see - mail from my husband. He mentioned something in one of his letters that I had been meaning to write about but I wanted to devote an entire post to it and not just simply a mere mention.

Up until recently, my husband had been transferring all over Texas for at least a month and while he was "in transit" he wasn't allowed to write to me. Going from unit to unit, you are only allowed to take basic necessities with you and TDCJ does not consider paper, envelopes, stamps and a pen necessities. So, I was not expecting to hear from him for quite some time. I knew that it would be at least 10 days after he returned to his unit before I would get a letter. To my surprise, I received a letter within a week of his return. The paper that he used was not the regular lined paper that I send him. I did however recognize this paper as being from the journals that I send. I came to find out that he snuck some paper with him in his bible so that he could write to me. He risked a major case taking paper with him because it would be considered contraband. While a part of me is upset with him for taking that risk, I understand why he did  it. He loves his wife.

I have never doubted that love for one second just like I have never doubted that he would keep a promise he made to me over a year ago that he would always be OK. I took a leap of faith with that promise and I have never been sorry. My husband very rarely makes promises so when he does, you know two things are going to happen: he will take that promise very seriously; and, he will not fail. It is this blind faith that we have in each other that keeps us committed and connected and it is that same faith that will get us through this time apart. We will come out on the other side of this stronger and more in love with each other than when we started. Of that, I have no doubt.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You can change the world!

Tonight just feels like one of those nights where I need to make a post. As some of you may already know, I am a member of several support groups whose main purpose is to support women with either husbands or partners or children who are incarcerated. As a matter of fact, I wrote about one not too long ago thanking them for the support they had showed me since I joined their group. While it is one thing to be supportive of someone through the safety of an online support group, it is another thing entirely to have one of those members call you on the phone all the way from England!

Several weeks ago, I met a woman on one of these sites whose husband is in TDCJ. We had exchanged posts and stories and discovered that we had a lot in common. We were both thousands of miles away from our husbands and neither one of us got calls because, as we all know, TDCJ does not allow inmates to make international calls. We also both have family that have distanced themselves from us for the choice that we have made to stand by our husbands at all costs - a choice I guarantee you they will regret before we will. We talked and commiserated for quite some time about several bones of contention we had with the Texas justice system and the treatment of our respective husbands.

At the end of our call, she said to me "You know Kimberley, I just love your blogs. I read them all the time and some of them make me cry." While I know that what I write affects me right to the core of my being, I hadn't really realized the impact that they had on other people who are in the same, if not a very similar situation to my own. I have sent just about every blog that I have written to my husband and I always look for his approval on what I write and I get it in spades every time. He says "I get choked up when I read your blogs. I knew that people would love them. They are real. They are raw and it gives people something to believe in. You are helping people." I receive comments quite regularly about what I write and they are all wonderfully supportive and I appreciate every one of them. But truth be told, when I receive a comment like "this was definitely an amazing blog. It honestly brought tears to my eyes and made me remember to not take even the littlest things for granted with my other half", I know that I am making a difference so even though I've always been told, "You can't change the world"...maybe, just maybe, I am.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

He's stronger than he thinks!

Well finally, after what seemed like forever, I received a letter today from my husband. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see his name in the top left-hand corner of an envelop in my mailbox. It just brings me a sense of peace and comfort when mail finally arrives from Texas. As long as my husband is writing then I know that he's OK.

Today's letter had a bit of a somber tone to it. He was clearly in an enormous amount of pain and that is not something I take lightly at all. He is as tough as nails so for him to openly admit he is hurting is saying a lot. He seemed at his wit's end and he was unsure what to do about it. He was frustrated and he was irritated. He's not getting any real relief from the pain that he's in 24/7 and the one thing that could relieve all of his pain is the one thing that the prison won't do and that's surgery. So, he does the best he can because, at this point, there is no other choice. He has always said that he will do what he needs to do to come home safely to me and by the livin' Jesus he is doing just that.

As you all know, it's been over a year since we've seen each other and we don't often talk about that. Surprisingly, in this letter he talked about it. For some reason, some women think that if a man really, truly loved them he would remember absolutely everything about them; every outfit they wore, every good hair day they had and most certainly every word they have ever said. I've never put that expectation on my husband so when he remembers something that I think he might not have paid attention to, it makes me smile. He remembered the last time we saw each other in New York right before he went back to Texas. He remembered the smile on my face when I saw him, the jeans that I wore and he remembered how he felt and what was going through his mind when I had to leave him after our visit. He remembered how important it was to him not to break down in front of me and he remembered how heartbroken he was when I left. He stayed strong for me and it is that strength he showed then and continues to show now that will get me through this time without him.

You see he always talks about how he gets through this time because of me and today was no different. Today, he said "it's been because of you that I've held it together through the courts, the chains and the pain". You see each time my husband went to court, I wasn't there and I have felt guilty about that every single day. He stood there and faced all that negativity alone and it was my place to be there with him and I wasn't and I feel that I failed him. If you were to ask him, though, he would tell you that I was with him the entire time; in his heart and in his soul. It will, more than likely, take me a little while to forgive myself but with the love of my husband all things are possible.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Irish always get what they want!

If you have been reading my posts lately, you will know that on Thanksgiving weekend I received a text from my husband's best friend that somewhat unnerved me. My husband calls his best friend every weekend, or at least he tries to anyway. On this particular weekend, I was told that he sounded more frustrated than he has ever sounded since being in TDC and that's saying a lot. He was in an enormous amount of pain and he had just returned from medical chain from Galveston hospital where he underwent an EMG. For those that don't know, an EMG is an electromyogram which is used to assess the function of nerves and muscles. It is by far not the most pleasant experience my husband has ever had and to hear him tell it, it is actually quite painful.

When he returned to his unit, he wasn't sent back to the cell he left on the first floor. Instead, he was assigned to the second floor and on a top bunk. For a man that has been put on movement restriction and is not allowed to stand for any lengthy period of time, is not allowed to lift anything over five pounds and is not allowed to have his arms over his head, it makes absolutely zero sense to me that he would be put on the second floor where he has to climb stairs several times a day and be put on a top bunk. If he isn’t supposed to lift more than five pounds, why would he then be expected to lift his 200 pound self up to a top bunk?

Well all my husband had to say to me was “do something please” and I did. I called the unit the very next day and was prepared to do battle for him just like always. I spoke to the practice manager who is, in actual fact, the facility health administrator. She was very nice and pleasant as was I, but I was prepared not to be if necessary. I told her who I was and what I wanted done and to my surprise she agreed to speak to my husband’s doctor that afternoon about having him moved back down to the first floor and to a bottom bunk. The doctor agreed and my husband was moved that night. So, while that may not seem like a big deal, I see it as a victory for my husband.

One thing you should know and that is when my husband or my children need my help, I will always be there for them even if it is from 3,000 miles away. My husband always says “I know how you like your fights” and he is right. I do like my fights but only when it is absolutely necessary and while I may not be able to do much for him, apart from writing to him every day and putting money on his books, I sure can raise a little hell if needed. I’m just glad, for TDC’s sake, it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Preparing for the vote!

Well today is exactly three months until my husband reaches his parole eligibility date or PED as some call it. So, what exactly does this mean? This is the earliest day that my husband could be released to come home and serve the remainder of his sentence in the community and that is a day I have been praying for, for the last 435 days.

The vote can only go one of two ways. Yes or No. So, how do you prepare for no vote? Better yet, how do you prepare for a yes vote? Either way, you've got to get your mind right about both possibilities. A no vote means, you dig a little deeper in your strength stores and square up for another year without him. A yes vote means the sky's the limit and after a possible total of 526 long days you will finally be together the way you were always meant to be.

Preparing for a parole vote is no easy task. The first thing that you need to do is decide whether you want to hire a parole attorney or go it alone and prepare a parole packet yourself. I opted for the attorney. For me, hiring a parole attorney was a choice that was very easy for me to make and not because I felt that my husband would stand no chance without one but simply because I could not be my husband's voice to parole the way an attorney could and after countless hours of research, I decided on, what I feel, is the best choice for my husband.

My husband entrusted this decision to me and believe me it was not one that I took lightly by any means. I researched parole attorneys in Texas for weeks and when I found one I liked, I read everything I could find on him. I reviewed his website thoroughly, checked him out on the Texas State Bar and reviewed dozens and dozens of independent testimonials not connected to his website. In short, I left no stone unturned when it came to deciding who would be the man that I would entrust with my husband's future and ultimately his life.

Once I decided on an attorney, it was very important that my husband meet him and while the final decision was mine, I am glad that they met and that my husband liked him. Then the real work began. The process of putting together a parole packet is quite daunting but it is a very necessary step in the process. Letters of support, photos, educational background, work history and plans for parole are all crucial information that must be provided to the parole attorney in short order. Some may think that gathering all of this information is the hardest part in this whole process. To me, the hardest part is trusting your husband's fate to a man you've never met and at some point, resigning yourself to the fact that you have done all you can for the man you love.

I have faith in the efforts and choices that I have made and I have faith in the parole attorney that I have hired but I cannot help but be in awe of my husband's commitment, resolve and dedication to his family and to himself and for that I will be forever proud. My faith in him is unwavering and my love for him is eternal and for that I will always be grateful.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What are you thankful for?

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada and I just put the turkey into the oven and I am preparing for another holiday without my husband and that is a very sobbering thought. We have now been apart for four Thanksgiving Days - two Canadian and two American and while I am reminded every day that my husband isn't here, the fact that it is a holiday makes no difference to me.

Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas or the third Thursday of November, he still isn't here. I am sure that a lot families of inmates feel more apart on holidays than any other day and that is probably because the focus is on it being a holiday and that being with your family is what you should be doing and a part of your family is missing and maybe has been for a while. 

While holidays are a time of reflection and a time for family, shouldn't we all be happy in knowing that even though we may not be together, we are a part of a family and that bond will always keep us together regardless of the date?

I want to share something with all of you that my husband sent to me. Even though he isn't a religious man, he is very spiritual and when he sends me quotes, I know that they have moved him.

"To the helper and protector of all children, the comfort of the solitary, and those who are separated from those they love, I ask you to give them a good gift for the body and for the soul, and to unite everyone, present and absent, in true faith and love."

So, while I am not thankful that my husband is in prison, I do thank God every single day for setting us both on a path that was destined to lead us to each other. When I look back on it, I realize that every choice we have made, good or bad has brought us to this life that we are building together and there is no greater gift than that.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Well, it's been a few days since I've posted and considering I just received 3 letters from my husband today, I thought it would be a good day to write. It's always a great comfort to me when I get letters from my husband because then I know he's OK. As long as the mail runs, he's good so every day I hope and I pray that there's something in the mailbox for me from Texas. There are days when I am disappointed and then there are days, like today, when I can't get those letters opened fast enough to read what he's written.

My letters are my only connection to my husband and they are very precious to me. You know I have been talking to a lot of women in some of the support groups that I am a part of and they can't believe that the only communication I have with the love of my life is the mail. When talking about phone calls, one woman said to me: "WOW, five minutes every 90 days seems unreal & inhumane. I didn't know prisons had the right to do such a thing!!! My Lord, I had no clue that some of you don't get to talk or visit or hear from your husband's. I am praying for you all. Please inform me of any petitions you have going so I can support you. Hang in there Kimberley...God Bless".

That is only one of at least a dozen emails that I received tonight. These women all wanted to know if I had a petition and where it was and to my surprise they all signed it without hesitation. That kind of support right there you can only get from another prison wife or mother. Sure people say they understand but if you haven't been where I am, you really have no idea what it's like to be 3,000 miles away from the man you love and not be able to hear his voice and to worry every single day where he is and if he's alright. So, yes my letters are like gold to me.

The letters that I received today were from September 13, 17 and 26. You see how long things take sometimes to get to me? Most of the time, my husband just talks about his day and how he's feeling about things. And then there are times when he will talk about everything and anything. His hopes. His dreams. His plans for our family's future. I think it makes him feel alive to be making plans and to know that he is a part of something bigger than the prison that he is in. His body may be locked up 24/7 but his mind is free and his heart is free. He is loved unconditionally for the husband that he is to me and the father that he is to our children. He is a man who loves his family with everything he has and with everything he is and no prison can ever take that away from him.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Gloves are off!

It's Thanksgiving weekend here and while I thought that it might be a nice stressfree weekend, it has turned out to be anything but that. I received an email this afternoon from my husband's best friend in Colorado and I have been in a state of anxiousness ever since.

My husband has been on medical chain since August 17 and he has been to the hospital in Galveston twice and is still no further ahead in knowing what, if anything, TDCJ is going to do to help him. While his medical condition has always been a concern for me, it hasn't been the only concern that I have had. Like any wife or husband of an inmate, you constantly worry for their safety. You worry if they are strong enough physically and mentally to handle anything or anyone that may come their way in prison. Before my husband's medical condition worsened, I would have said without a doubt in my mind that he could have physically handled anyone that crossed his path or threatened his safety. And while I don't know for certain that my husband's safety has been threatened, it is certainly on my mind and has been all day.

The only information that I do know for certain is that my husband is now in a cell with another man that is serving a 27 year sentence. I could say that if this man is in for 27 years then he must have done something really bad but then again we are talking about Texas to and he could very well be in for that length of time because of something less than what I think. However, the fact that my husband mentioned it, to me means that it's more than likely a bad thing. You see up until now, my husband has done his best to protect me from the truth about prison life and for that I will be forever grateful.

My husband doesn't usually ask for help because he doesn't like to ever feel that he owes anyone anything. So, if he asks for help you know two things: one, it was hard for him to ask and two, that it's something that he can't handle himself and that is what unnerves me because my husband can handle anything. So, what's a wife to do? Well I could sit and stress and worry and actually I have done that for most of the day today but then there comes a point where my fear and stress turn to anger and action and I am at that point right now.

So, I will get through this weekend as best I can having faith in my husband that he is doing whatever is necessary to stay safe but when Monday comes, the gloves are off and I will do battle for him and I will get what I want and I will tell you this...TDCJ won't know what hit em!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Soul Mates

~~The supreme state of human love is the unity of one soul in two bodies~~

If you had to describe your soul mate, what would you say? There are probably a few little catch phrases you might use like “we belong together” or “we were meant to be”. But what does it take to be soul mates?

I am not really sure that I know the answer to that question and I am not sure that I ever really believed in there being one perfect person for each of us…until now.  So, how do I know that my husband is my soul mate?

Well for starters he is American and I am Canadian and while that may not be such a big deal and may not qualify as making you soul mates, you need to know that my husband is from Texas and I am from Ontario – 3,000 miles apart.

My husband had another life before me and I had another life before him. He lived the fast life and in the public eye. I was a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom raising two children on my own. We didn’t know it then, but there were times when we were both in the exact same place at the exact same time and we never met.

Like my husband says, being soul mates is not just about love and being in love, it’s a lifestyle. To me, it’s a state of awareness that there is an incomplete soul looking for you that won’t rest until it’s found it’s other half.

For those that have yet to experience what it is like to find their soul mate, all I can tell you is that when you find it you will know. Everything will finally make perfect sense.

As a prison wife, there are a lot of what if moments and this life can break you if you let it. But if you have truly found the man you have always been meant to be with, those what if moments will serve as a connection and a bond that can never be broken.

My husband and I have a connection that continues to amaze me but not surprise me. We have had all real time communication taken away from us and still we are connected. We not only finish each other’s sentences but answer questions that haven’t even been asked yet. When you have finally found your soul mate you can't imagine your life without him. You can't remember what your life was like before him and even if you could, would that life matter? You can remember the first time you saw him, the first time he kissed you, the first time he told you he loved you. You can go right back to that moment in time.

You can feel his heart beat right alongside yours even though you haven’t seen each other in a year. You can remember the sound of his voice and his laugh and the way he makes you feel when he says “can I ask you a question?”

While I didn't know it at the time, I found my soul's other half in September 2009 and while he may be sitting in a prison in Texas 3,000 miles away from me, our souls are right where they belong...home!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

What we should be doing

Good Sunday morning!

Another week has passed and that means that my husband is one week closer to coming home. He has now been gone 424 days or a little over 60 weeks and while that amounts to a little over a year, to me it's a lifetime.

There are a lot of things that we should be doing right now and missing each other isn't one of them. We should be gearing up for Sunday football on TV or, even better, going to a game and freezing our butts off because that's how footbal was meant to be watched, outside in the cold. We should be standing in the kitchen bsing one another, making chili, having a few beers and betting with each other to see whose team is going to win. You see I will always bet against him because, well, it's just more fun that way. We should be doing all these things...but we're not. Hopefully, this time next year we will be sitting in the Dallas Cowboy's Stadium together with our family watching a game, eating hotdogs and lovin life.

In the meantime, I am sitting here watching football and making chili and my husband is sitting in a 6x8 cell waiting on medical chain...again and I hate that. I hate that he's missing out on things. I hate that he can't watch the Dallas Cowboys kicking butt and most of all I hate that he isn't here living the life he truly deserves and was always meant to have with me.