A Captive's Holidays
By David C. Taylor
The bite of incarceration splinters the bone of humanity right down to the marrow for most prisoners and their families during the holidays. I look out my second story window onto a vista of autumn colors here in Oregon. Trees of every hue, leaves of every description, geese by the gaggle heading south... I'm reminded that the holidays are upon "us." Others locked in concrete and steel containers behind the razor wire are not so fortunate. Though they cannot see it for themselves, I'm sure they feel the coming of the holidays as intensely as I do.
Understand that holiday time is the hardest time a prisoner will ever do. As I write this, my children are turning my grandchildren into monsters, super heroes, princesses and even a unicorn. At this time of All Hallows Eve I would normally be hooking up the lawn tractor to the leaf trailer, filling it with hay to transport those with legs too short to keep up with the super-heroes, like my little Miss Unicorn.
Crisp chill in the air…still there
Beautiful fall colors…still there.
Bountiful holiday meals around a festive table...still there.
But we prisoners are not; and that is the MISERY of it. It’s the place where despair and forlorn exasperation meet despondent and overwhelming grief.
So “how indeed, in times of need, do we find joy?"
My personal saving grace comes from a place of compassion and understanding from my mother and father. They set a place at the holiday table for me, even though I'm absent from the family gathering. (Kind of like fallen collateral damage in the war on drugs.) My brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, and parents toast my absent presence (probably with wassail) and the thought of that brings me such invigorating peace of mind, to know that I am NOT forgotten. Being forgotten is the darkest fear of the incarcerated, second only to dying in here.
Finding peace is never easy, no matter what your circumstances are. It’s a daily struggle for everyone. But it is excruciatingly difficult in a situation of confinement, where it’s easier to pretend there's no Christmas than to think about one without you.
So please, if you have friends, family or loved ones in jail or prison, drop them a card. Shoot them a letter. Include them in your celebration. Let them know they are NOT forgotten. I leave you with a few lines from a poem entitled “Stuck" by fellow inmate and friend J.Bird Nunez:
As time ticks into another day,
As another date drops from Existence.
I sit and wonder how I've made it thus far,
How I made it the distance.
For each month that has passed,
Has amassed more and more misery.
I wonder if loved ones ever think of me?
Such a tragedy
As time goes drifting into that big unknown.
Angelica, my muse, asks you, “Bring some joy; share the love. Send pictures. There are 260,000 of us in the federal prison system that would love to hear from you."