Sunday Visit to my Brother During his Sixth Year of Incarceration
Sunday Visit: I arrive at 8:00am today. There are already visitors waiting outside the office. The guards are changing shift and they walk by and say hello. One guard suggests that we sit in our car and wait because they won’t let us in until 8:15am. The gentleman that is waiting tells him that he just got dropped off and does not have a car. The guard walks away. The gentleman tells me that “He’s a mean one.” I guess he has had encounters with him before. Another man joins us in a few minutes. He had driven eight hours the night before to see his nephew today. He is staying in a local hotel. The next person to arrive is the girl that I spoke to yesterday. I ask her if she had fun with her friends last night. She said she had too much fun and was having a rough day. We make small talk.
At 8:15 no guard has come out to let us in. I go in and ask them if they are ready for us. They say yes and I tell the people that were waiting in front of me to go in. There are different guards today – they are not as nice as the guards that processed us yesterday. Today I have to remove my jacket, remove my boots, lift my feet, lift my hair, get patted down, pull out my bra and wait until they tell me to proceed to the next step. The male guard is having problems verifying my identity. He is not very patient. I am finally verified and am escorted with the others to the waiting room. I get a coffee and start playing cards.
My brother comes up behind me. He is the first to arrive this time. I didn’t expect him so quickly. I hug him and we sit. I tell him what I did last night and then we survey the vending machines for breakfast and lunch. This is the routine that we have established. Playing cards is new to us. It was very enjoyable yesterday so we play another round of Rummy until 1000 points. He wins again. We make small talk today. We caught up on most everything yesterday.
As the day wears on he gets more bitter. This visit is more difficult for both of us. He cannot cry when I leave, so he has to become more removed and angrier with his situation to build his wall. I talk about my house and ask him questions about the facility and life there. He answers them and adds on to everything how miserable he is. It is tough for me to listen, but I have to. I am a captive audience. I will not see him for another six to nine months. I not only have to listen, I want to listen. I know that nothing I say will help. He is not looking for answers from me. He is just talking to fill the time and build his wall before he has to return. This is his coming down time. I am strong while I am there. I am proud of myself.
After we finish playing cards, we come up with a schedule for the rest of the day. The plan is to get through count What is count?, go outside with the smokers during the smoke break so that we can enjoy the beautiful day, make one last run through the vending machines for his exit meal (that’s what we call it.), talk for a few minutes ,and then I’ll take off to the airport. The plan goes flawlessly.
We walk up to the guard desk to let them know that I am leaving. I hug my brother and tell him I will talk to him on Tuesday. I am doing fine. As soon as I walk away, that’s it, all the strength and willpower is gone. I try not to cry as I leave, but it’s useless. It’s too hard. But at least he didn’t see me cry. The guard that escorts me out says “It’s hard to leave.” I nod my head and sign out. She says goodbye and tells me to drive safe. I cannot talk. I am trying to keep my composure. I wave and leave. It doesn’t matter how many years I have been coming here. Leaving is the hardest part.
I drive carefully and make it to the car rental return. They drive me to the airport. I go through security at the airport. The TSA employees here have the same persona as the guards that I just left. Of course I get pulled aside for the full treatment. As they are wanding me and patting me down I fight hard to keep the tears from falling. It figures that my strength is tested when I am the most vulnerable. I make it through security and set up my computer to write about today.
This is the story of one of my visits. Please share the story of your visit and your experience in the “Your Voice” section of this Blog.