There is so much hesitation when talking about Jeremy’s potential for freedom, for release into the world and into my embrace. There is so much hesitation and so much trepidation that are at war with my hope and the vision that I have in my head of a life with my life partner. So much that I normally don`t even want to talk about it. I cannot talk about it some days. The thoughts and the feelings that those thoughts own sit on a shelf in the back of my mind, there for accessing but not for showing. What is the truth? That I`m terrified of my husband never getting a second chance and I feel a sense of overwhelming nervousness that he will, that we will be able to build a life after so many years of being apart the majority of the time. I live in this space between crying while laughing and laughing while crying and sometimes I`m not sure which one is which. There are days when I`m not sure if my life is very empty or very full. All I know is that I have a faint glimmer of hope and sometimes that is all you need to get out of bed in the morning, committed to your cause, ready to give it all you’ve got even though you are tired.
Jeremy and I have never known each other outside of prison walls. We have never eaten a meal at our dining room table together or held hands in the rain or been able to leave each other silly notes that are part smart ass, part madly in love. We have never shopped for groceries together, embraced in sadness beyond the barb wire. We have never shared immense joy the moment it happens out in the world, far from the confines of the prison and its rules, its walls. But…it feels like we have done all of those things and more. These last 15 years have felt like anything real is supposed to feel, complete with its ups and downs, two steps forward and ten steps back. No crazy imagination necessary. We built our own version of freedom ourselves and have sustained each other with the restraint breaking completeness that unconditional love provides. Him and I in our little bubble in the middle of a visiting room, on the phone with our louder than life laughter and the passionate affirming silence of two people who don`t need to say a word to know. We know each other better than we know ourselves and I never thought I would have that with another person.
The other day Jeremy told me that his friend Mike was rolling up and transferring to a prison up north, that he was giving up on his appeals and wanted the freedom of being at a prison that allows more time outside of the cell, but not one that inmates are really releasing from. This prison up north is where he is going to get comfortable, to settle into his sentence and maybe where he is going to leave this world. This news was unexpected and caught me off guard. “I didn’t know he was leaving. You didn’t tell me” I said. I like Mike quite a bit and in fact, I just saw him the last time I visited. When he saw me, he lit up and gifted me a huge goofy grin and a wave. Upon my departure, he wished me a safe drive. I wish I would have paid attention to that moment a little better now.
I hate endings and I hate not knowing if I’ll ever see someone again. Knowing that he is relocating to come to terms with giving up on life on the outside pains me in a way that I cannot describe, but Jeremy explained to me that Mike wanted to be happy and he knew that he could be happy somewhere else, that as a habitual criminal in the past who has caught a serious sentence, that he knew he would probably never get out and didn`t want to pursue freedom to the outside world further.
Freedom is available in shades, in levels that are so personal to a person and a circumstance. Although I am sad about Mike, I have to think of his choice as liberation for him, one that he is choosing. How can I argue with that? I cannot. I can only wish him well and focus my attention on grasping my hope for my husband’s shade of freedom that involves a life beyond the prison gate.