I woke up next to my husband one week ago today. Side by side felt like home. He wasn’t thrilled about the pillow between us, though grateful his very pregnant bride was able to get some sleep. I was delighted to have such a hunk next to me, and found myself concerned about the level of my morning breath.
It is a rare occasion to roll over and find the love of my life on the other side to share morning conversation and giggles with. He tried to convince me that I have a small snore, and it’s “the cutest.” I don’t snore.
Amidst the laughter were deep drawn stares revealing pain of the realization we had less than twenty-four hours remaining. Back to reality. Separation. Restrictions. Longing. Hadn’t we just walked in these doors of privacy?
We did our best to hide the pain and flow with joy, but we knew this departure was going to be our hardest yet. With three weeks left in pregnancy, it was our last FRP (Family Reunion Program, known to the majority as “conjugal visits”) until the state approves the addition of our daughter, Sophia, to our application.
Sophia must visit three times before she becomes eligible to spend alone time with her father. Once met, Jacob will send our application to Albany. The last application to Albany was returned after more than half a year.
My husband has fulfilled more than half of his minimum sentence. More than eleven years of incarceration for a decision one of his associates made. Yes, my husband made bad choices. My husband carries a responsibility in the full scheme of events on that very tragic night, as well as the days to follow, but he was not in control of the choices made by his associate who committed the actual crime.
He was still in his teens when this crime was committed. The state condemned him to twenty-two years to life in prison.
In eleven years Jacob has maintained a sobriety from drugs and alcohol, which are by no means hard to come by. He has remained “ticket” and fight free in the extreme hostile setting that is prison. Not a single record of offense. He has been extremely pursuant of transformation and rehabilitation, taking part in as many programs as possible. He’s continued his education while maintaining a perfect average every semester; speaking at commencement. He taught others, led peace initiatives approved by faculty and staff, facilitated and encouraged at risk youth, participated in a documentary, all while maintaining a healthy and supportive family unit, and most importantly growing in faith.
Jacob was once a troubled child. He went to prison as one. He is no longer that child, but a man, a good man having a child of his own.
The days since our FRP have been painfully frustrating. Jacob is ready and desperate to come home and provide for and protect his family. According to New York State’s own standards, he is eligible.
But we wait.
That’s the painful part we want others to see and have compassion for.
We are about to bring the most glorious gift God has given us into this world. We will experience it physically separated, yet united in deep love. We will have our own struggles in these beautifully blessed days ahead. We are overjoyed and focused. We know that in the end, we have one another and God.
We wait. We hope. We pray. We act. We walk in faith.
We know God has a plan and a purpose. We pray our story will be used to glorify God and promote reformation to a corrupt system entrusted to carry out justice and correction. We pray that those who have earned and demonstrated their ability to lead productive lives be granted their freedom in a timely manner. We pray that society can rise above and say let’s have compassion, let’s work together for the betterment of humankind. Let’s try love instead of hate. Let’s forgive rather than harshly abuse families with unproductive punishment of the masses.
One body may be locked behind the walls, but each of those bodies is connected to another. There is a chain of human hurt and imprisonment.
I am thankful to have a husband strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Our marriage would be impossible to manuever otherwise.
We are able to focus on God and the blessings he overflows our cup with.
We hope in Him.
We hope for reformation of a failing system.
We hope in our future.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I (we, who are one) hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul(s) who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:24, 25