Tuesday May 13, 2014
I write this, a few days before Friday, May 16th, the scheduled date of Paul’s release. I’m surprised at the intensity of my reaction, which, to any logical mind, is exaggerated, overblown, especially considering the reason he’s been in prison. Why should I even care? Almost nine years have passed, you’d think I would have…perhaps forgotten all about him, but I haven’t.
In fact, I remember almost every critical moment of the two years from 2005-2007, although now I only consciously relive those times when I’m writing or editing my memoir. Nowadays, it’s as if I’m writing about someone else, or about something that happened a lifetime ago.
Today, May 13th, just three days before the release date, I may throw up, even though lunch was more than three hours ago. A strong metallic taste invades my mouth. I know this physical reaction is entirely caused by emotion.
My heart isn’t racing, but each beat feels louder and harder than normal and goes from the center of my chest down to my diaphragm, a jackhammer of augmented anxiety.
I remind myself to take deep breaths…like the little reminders I have taped all over the house. They say, breathe – and prompt me not to hold my breath, but breathe evenly and deeply. This conscious action lessens my level of anxiety and helps me create a calm atmosphere. I actually notice the spring breeze that sneaks though the screened-in porch.
I thought this day would never arrive. I couldn’t imagine my life without him incarcerated. Over the last year, I assumed, with his serious medical problems, he would probably die before his release date. He fooled the federal prison authorities, doctors and those remaining in contact with him and is going to walk out of the massive Butner, North Carolina facility, his sentence served.
Friday May 16, 2014
When Friday arrives, I find I think of little but his release. An accumulation of feelings: positive, negative, fearful, angry, resentful tumble through my thoughts over the day. I wonder, as the hours pass, where he is, what’s happening and how he’s feeling. This intense concern about him seems strange, even to me, as I try to figure out why I even care. There were months at a time during his incarceration when I never thought about him, even once. Perhaps it’s the memories of the good times, and yes, there were some, before he descended into his obsessions and illegal activity. I can’t figure out the reasons. It doesn’t really matter, for this day will pass and I’m not part of his life anyway. Except that I am, in my mind.
His cousin Chris, so supportive and kind to him over all this time, picks him up and drives him to her house for the remainder of the day. She tells me they have dinner and she emails a photo of the two of them, taken by her daughter, in front of a purple sunset. Paul appears remarkably well and her happy expression shows how genuinely she cares for him. A sensation of warmth passes through my chest and I feel glad for him.
The next day, he’ll fly to Arizona, where he’ll live with his sister. I tell my mind to empty the conglomeration of thoughts and feelings about him that have taken over my brain the last few days. I would like to think that his wellbeing has nothing to do with me, but the reality is that I’m still waiting for my release.