Truth: Over my lifetime I have allowed friends to enter and exit my life, without valuing them adequately...all too often without putting forth the hard work that is required to maintain and nurture those relationships.
Consequences: I have fewer friends than I could have.
Truth: I have a good friend who doesn't have a violent bone in his body, but made a stupid mistake.
Consequences: He was arrested in February of this year, and is now in prison.
I am thinking of him now, and I miss him. I wonder what he will be like when he leaves the justice system 2 years from now. Will he be the same? Will I be there to greet him? What lays in store for him?
Seneca Doane recently published a diary soliciting help for a guy that he admitted up front was likely a "bad dude" incarcerated in California. I offered what advice I could. As I did so, I was thinking of my own friend...in prison here in Oregon. He's not a bad dude. He is, in fact, a man who comes as close to being a brother to me as one can come without sharing blood.
I won't go into what he did to land himself in jail, except to assure you it did not involve theft, or drugs, or physical or sexual violence. Neither was it a white collar crime. He made a stupid decision, and is paying dearly for it.
So, too, are his two sons. His elderly mother. Those he counts as his friends, of whom I am one.
I wonder about him this evening. I often do. How is he doing? What is he doing?
I wonder what he will be like when he gets out. Will he be the same? I can't imagine that he will be. Will we be able to pick up where we left off? I hope so.
What will he do? He was self employed as a court interpreter before his arrest. That avenue of employment is closed to him now, since he is a convicted felon. Again...he did not harm anyone...but his crime was a felony crime. A felon is a felon...the word suggests violence. Danger. A person not to turn one's back upon.
I can think of no other person I know that I would choose to have my back than this man. And I would trust him with anything. But that's me. I won't be able to offer him a job when he gets out.
I'm not sure what I want to say here...except this. Not everyone who lands in jail, or in prison even...is necessarily a bad person. I'm not talking about innocence, even. One can be good, and yet not be, in a specific circumstance, innocent.
People who find themselves in prison fall into many different categories, and cover a wide spectrum of humanity. There are bad dudes, as Seneca put it, there are good dudes too. Some are innocent. Most are probably guilty.
But pretty much all of them are forgotten. Except for their children, their family...and sometimes their spouses if they have one. Life, for the rest of us, goes on.
I miss my friend. I hope he is well. I wouldn't wish him a Merry Christmas if I could. I just hope I am still around and above water, and able to shake his hand when he gets out and try to help him get his bearings again. If I'm not, for whatever reason, and he walks out in two years to find himself alone, and 52 years old...I hate to think what awaits him.