Saturday, December 16, 2006

I pinch

Yesterday we drove the four hours to and from the SCI where my son is serving time, and visited for the full six hours we were allotted. It is hard to describe how difficult it is to face these days with hope and to remain relaxed for the entire day. Our day usually starts at 3:30 am and ends at 8:00 pm, when we walk through our front door again. Any separate element of the day is hard, but the collective elements make it exhausting in mind, body and spirit. After the drive to the facility, we are always searched, pass through a metal detector, wait our turn, and then try to be as casual as possible seeing our son (generally once a month) as though it was a visit to a college dorm. While we are delighted to have hours to visit, those hours need to be filled. Sometimes it is really hard to think of things to say that long.

We did the best we could for the morning. I finally had to lay my head down on the formica table where we sat to take a brief nap. I prayed I would not drool all over the table. We played cards for a time, and that seemed to keep the clock ticking. Getting food from the vending machines, preparing it and eating is another way time passes. This food is a treat for the inmates, who really don't get a chance to eat much of anything that even looks like grocery store food. If they are able to buy things from the commissary, they can't buy knives to cut or spread anything. My son is a great storyteller and a natural comedian. I miss his presence so terribly in the day, but that gift also keeps the conversation running and laughter happening. I don't know how it got started, but he began performing the Honda Element car commercial with Gil the Crab. You can actually visit Gil on his myspace account (, but basically a picture of a real crab with speech bubbles engages the car on the beach by saying, "I pinch" (I peench!) The car tells the crab all the nifty stuff it does, and the crab keeps saying, "I pinch, I pinch!"

So after we were crying with laughter after Bran did his best car commercial retelling, every time the silence became to long or heavy, or a statemtent came up where it fit, someone would say, "I pinch" and we'd all start giggling again. I actually tried to find a tee shirt with the crab on it, and I think I'm going to write the company to see if they would market them. Things like that remind me so much of my son and keep the memory of the day in a sweet way. While he's away such things keep him home in my mind. I have to work hard to not become frustrated or despondent over his absence and the whole circumstances surrounding it. I wonder if I'll have the strength to endure the 14-plus hour days we need to see him for years. All I can say to that is, "I pinch!" (I just have to stay away from the butter and tongs...)


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