So here we are. Another holiday season behind concrete and razor wire fencing. What number is this? I think it’s my 28th and Felicia’s fifth, but I’d need a calendar to tell you for sure. I often wonder, does it really matters at this point?
For me that’s 28 Thanksgivings, Christmas’s, New Years, holidays that used to hold special occasion and memory. Now I mostly recall snippets of a fond past.
In prison, time slowly robs you of your happiness. Friends and family start to pass, and what was once fond is replaced with pain and sadness. This is especially true of the holidays here. With each ticking year, you endure holiday events unique to prison, and these become your new memories. For bad or for worse.
In prison the abnormal becomes normal. The violence, corruption and ongoing madness are just another day in a Groundhog existence.
In prison, to let go of the past is to let go of one of the only things you have that no one can take from you. You can take my liberty and my life, but you cannot take my memories.
But therein lies the paradox of surviving your sentence. You must let go of the past in order to survive the present. If you don’t, the past will eat you alive, one painful memory at a time.
Felicia acutely remembers the final days before her arrest. It was the holiday season with her children. Time hasn’t yet robbed her of that, and I hope it never does. I envy Felicia’s ability to recall everything for I have long since walled off what was in order to survive what is.
In prison, 2022 was a good year, but only good in the sense that it was finally an end to endless prison covid lockdowns. It still sucked.
I wish I could say I have good feelings about 2023, but I don’t. I feel that terrible things await the world in 2023. My gut has never been wrong–not once in my life. I lose sleep over it sometimes.
The old prison adage, “It is what it is” applies here I suppose. Whatever happens I’ll be doing the same things I do everyday until such time as I am unable to. Making new memories.
I think I’ve said enough. I’ll turn this over to Felicia now.
It’s November 23rd 2022, 24 hours til the festive holiday of the season. Hands sweating, heart racing, and legs wobbly. Unsure of how I’m going to be okay. A thick layer of depression has blanketed me. Each holiday season sends me racing down memory lane to those last 70 days prior to being arrested.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Incarceration. How do I go on and act like this doesn’t bother me? “In time it will get easier,” advice from an alleged wise man.
It’ll be 5 years this January. I can still hear, feel, see and even smell that moment those handcuffs slapped my wrists. The holidays are my last memories with my children. Seeing their smiles, hearing their laughs, cooking their favorite foods, spending all night wrapping their gifts from their long Christmas lists.
Now instead of making new memories each year and looking forward to the sweet scent of pumpkin and spice with twinkling lights everywhere, I have these memories.
I look forward to January 19th to check off another year, another year closer to my release and going home. I find myself praying for my children and others’ safety, happiness and health.
Spending as much time outside my dorm as possible due to the feelings bouncing off the ladies around me. The ups and downs. The failed attempts to appear as if everything is okay.
Being someone that can feel others’ feelings grabs ahold of me like cold air on a winter night, draining warmth from my body. Not daring to look any of them in their eyes, refusing to see the heartaches, the longing to be anywhere but here. That along with the fear of my feelings mirroring theirs and being exposed and feeling vulnerable.
Thanksgiving Day. There’s an awkward high squeak in the voices around me. That sound when you know someone is nervous or anxious. Hearing the others trying to lift the women around us in attempts to lift themselves.
The most asked and repeated question around the institution today is, “What are you thankful for?” Many answers pour out. With each one a piece of my heart breaks for them and myself.
Life, a second chance, 2 meals a day, sobriety, family, children, a second chance with God, my friends and support system behind these walls. But the most brutally honest answer is SURVIVING ANOTHER HOLIDAY IN PRISON.
Felicia S. 11/26/2022