So Chris told me I could write about whatever topic I picked, and after much deliberation I’ve chosen my year of 1st’s. My Dad, who was my dude, passed away last July so I’m just now finishing up the 1st year without him by my side, holding me up through this struggle. I know loss is loss and grief is grief, but being behind these walls exacerbates everything ten-fold, and to me the loss of my Dad was the loss of an entity, a giant, a nightmare come all too true.
September 25th was the first birthday of his that he wasn’t here for. Sadly, I dialed his number, the muscle memory of it overriding common sense I suppose. I been in a haze of sorts, losing weeks it seemed every time I closed my eyes. I felt raw and exposed, and it seemed as though my fellow inmates here couldn’t really understand what I was still in shock over.
Thanksgiving came next. No phone line to get into because there wasn’t anybody I just had to call. The initial grief felt by the rest of my family seemed to have abated, but I still felt like it had only been days, maybe a couple of weeks since my life was turned completely upside down.
Christmas. I didn’t leave my cell. The next day a friend had asked if I had caught the Michael Jordan documentary on the previous day, and I burst into tears. Thoughts of my Dad and home and growing up watching those games and some of our last phone calls when the series aired that Spring flooding to my head. I apologized and ran to my cell.
April 1st, the anniversary of my daughter’s death, and April 4th, my son’s birthday. Always a week I leaned heavily on my Dad and his wise counsel or quick joke. My first year I was alone.
Father’s Day. I always loved Father’s Day because I was raised by just a dad, and he was so awesome, and this was a day to celebrate him. I had to endure the commercials and my inability to celebrate my great Dad any longer.
There’s been many other firsts through this year as well. My Dad a diehard Michigan fan had told me Juwan Howard was the coach and to look out for them in the next couple of years. I cried when they made it to the elite eight in March Madness, knowing my Dad would’ve been so proud.
Visits have opened up again at my facility and I’ll never again get to see my Dad come through the check in again and hug me. But I try to remember what he used to tell me before he left every visit “Dear one day you are going to walk out of here, and you need to live your life every day in preparation for that time.” My dad was, after all, a very smart man.
Ashleigh (WHV) (MI) Women’s Huron Valley Correctional
Read the thoughts of other prisoner’s and the struggles they face, in the book titled ”Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal ($11.50, pp 483 Amazon.com) (eBook $1.99) By Christopher Monihan. Hollywood has done a poor job of telling the story of incarceration. Reality is far more difficult.
THANK YOU for following. –Christopher–
6 thoughts on “The First Year Without My Dad by Ashleigh”
Thank you Ashleigh for sharing. I enjoyed this.
Christopher I have followed your blog for 2 years. I live in Japan and learning about your struggles and those of the women is moving. You are doing good thing. Please continue. Thank you.
Thank you for following, but my voice is only one. Ashleigh, the author of this post, and what she and so many others have written is why I created this blog. Her story is sad, but unfortunately not unique. There are thousands of stories similar to hers behind these walls. And, when we experience loss there is no support or caring intervention by the department of corrections. Not here on Ohio, not anywhere in the country. Sad truth. We have only ourselves.
Such a sad post. Be strong Ashleigh.
You will be free again Ashleigh and the struggles and the journey you are experiencing will have shaped you for a new future. Have faith because everything we experience in life is by design with meaning and purpose. I’m sorry for your loss, no one should have to lose loved ones while behind bars. Your father sounds like he was a great man.🌺
We care about you Ashleigh and your father would be proud of you. I read everything you write and look forward to the rest of your journey. SKY