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A text by my Father

When I was found guilty of my crime I never could have realized where my life would go. It was like a bad dream, a black abyss. All of my life I worked hard to build a successful business. I loved my family and my work, but perhaps not in the right order. I was guilty of my actions, but I think the judge was harsh with his sentence. Instead of a possible twelve month sentence, I received five years. I was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by an officer and it was at this moment I realized my life was no longer my own. The officer began the most inhumane search, as he inspected every part of my body. I was in shock. When they placed me into a holding cell I realized I was not going home. While waiting to be escorted from my cell to the bus outside, I recall pacing, allowing my feet to touch only the white tiles and never the black lines. I did this in the hospital awaiting the birth of both my sons.

I could not believe what I saw when the bus pulled up to the prison. The gun towers, razor wire fences, and the noise. Awful noises. The sound of the metal doors closing behind you, cutting you off from the rest of the world, is a sound that I will never forget. At that moment, you must leave personal matters and your lifestyle behind you and readjust to prison. Up until this point of my life I was always in complete control, but once inside you must become a B.O.P. [Bureau of Prisons] robot. They tell you when to eat, when to sleep, and when you can move. You quickly learn that you must divorce yourself from the outside world and concentrate on surviving.

I will not talk about the events that I saw and encountered during my incarceration. Good people should not be exposed to the horrors of prison life. Yet, I will say that the emptiness can kill you if you let it. The first thing you learn in prison is to keep to yourself. I went four months without speaking to another inmate. I began talking to myself just to ease the pain and loneliness. I began to count everything, years, days, hours, minutes, laps, and reps. I ran 10-20 miles every day. Rain, snow, and sub zero weather, I ran and ran just to keep my head clear. You try to do the time and not let the time do you. You pray for your loved ones, but try not to think about them. That was the hardest thing to do. I felt absolutely helpless. I love my family and was paralyzed that I was unable to help them.

As the seasons and years go by you become very stale. You exist but are not living. You long for the day you can go home to your loved ones. You lay awake at night worrying about re-entering the real world. You start to doubt all your abilities. The last year of my stay, my son Taylor and I would draw a card from a deck every Sunday. I slowly watched the cards disappear until I was able to go home.

At the end of 51 months, my belongings fit in one average cardboard box. I returned to my family, but to a strange house. I had lost everything while incarcerated. We could no longer afford to live in the beautiful homes we once lived in together. I was skinny and weak, and hoped to regain the success I once enjoyed. When I walked through the door, I remember the warmth I felt when my youngest son and I hugged. His acceptance was invigorating. Over the years I felt he missed and suffered the most. I could feel the distance between me and my oldest son and I hoped to regain his respect. Carrie was attached to her camera. I did not want her to take any pictures, but I didn’t want to refuse her. These pictures are one half of my apology to my daughter.

Looking over these images, I recall how awkward it was to lie next to my wife and not worry about an insane inmate. These pictures make me remember what it felt like to eat a meal in my own kitchen without prison rules. The freedom felt good. Throughout these photos I found it obvious that I wear my feelings on my face and that I felt enormous pain and disappointment. While away, I decided not to cut my hair to serve as a reminder of the mistakes I had made. To this day, I have not yet cut my hair. God only knows that I will never go back and that each day since I wish my family never had to experience my imprisonment.