We received two hand-written letters from Brandon this weekend. That is significant because he has a little typing and printing device he uses to do his letters. So I knew something was up as soon as I opened them. Bran was asked to give up his bunk for another inmate. Of course, this being prison, you're not told why nor really requested to do anything. You're simply told. If you do not comply, there are consequences. Bran understood this and still said "no". He figured if he got isolation, maybe a week. He got 20 days. Here's his version:
"Went to see the hearing examiner this morning, around 8:5o it says on the sheet. They gave me 20 days! On consideration! That's crazy. This, my first offense ever, a non-violent on at that, got me 20 days in the bucket. I guess...the only good part is I get to keep my job. What I might do is appeal the punishment. Try for 10 days in the hole, 10 on cell-restriction. Some such ratio. I can't go back to work in blues, but I can get myself situated on the block. It says in the rule book "Refusing an Order" is eligible for informal decision/punishment and doesn't require hole time. Much less 3 weeks
. These guys are off their collective rockers. I shouldn't have put in a guilty plea. In the appeal I'll plead for leniency over my workplace being short-handed (which is true, and the hiring list is wrapped in light years of red tape which doesn't help), or the fact that they guy was Muslim and I wasn't trying for any black marks by pressing religious/racial/cultural issues. Ahh, man, this is turning out to be one hot mess. It's all time, I suppose. They can't take the days away from me. They can take all else, but they can't take my time." (Thank God
I know I should be used to these things by now. You never get used to them. I try not to cry, try not to let it get in my way-I know my son and he'll be fine. But it just begins to seep and bleed into a soul. It's weird that in my step groups Friday night through Saturday at the jail we talked a lot about isolation. There are many kinds, and the one kind that isn't good is self-imposed. I cannot let Bran's isolation put me there as well.
In these things, God shows His face and is good. And so I try to watch for Him but sometimes it sneaks up! Yesterday, I knew I had to get to the grocery before going to the jail for group. I was trying hard to clear up the tears and get on with it, and as I was leaving the store, a stranger walked up to me with a plastic bag of grapes. He wasn't exactly Mr. Clean Cut citizen-greasy hair in an old cap, bad teeth and a grizzled beard, but he said, "I think you must have dropped these and I know they aren't mine. I also know you would have been missing them once you got home!" I don't know-sometimes the simplest acts of kindness are the most profoundly moving. I know he probably could have appreciated those grapes more than me.
Of course, logging onto the computer always produces surprises, and I got a lovely one in a long, beautiful e-mail from a friend (our Mel). She's the best writer-I always imagine I can hear her talking when she writes her style is so unique. Thanks again, my friend! That made my day. And the blog read I always check-Pixie's great stories, Shaun's funny posts and pictures, my friend Lisa and her constant e-mails. They are so appreciated.
And then in the prison-I already have two special gals, and one told me she watches to be sure my car pulls in. That amazes me. It means so much to them for me to be there. Well, it was just these two yesterday, and we had such a special session. They really needed to be able to vent, cry and just know someone cares. I feel enormously privileged to be able to bring some comfort and encouragement there. And then our local group...it's as if God handpicked the women to come, and we are already a tight group working through issues and our lives together. I'm so grateful to them for committing themselves (we should be committed, LOL!).
Love is all around, even amidst the isolation the world tries to impose. I know cell walls will not keep love away. (p.s. Another gift-the lovely painting I used for the blog...title of the painting is a hyperlink to the artist's website-his work is amazing