It was so nice to get to see you. 15 hours went by like 15 minutes. It brought me back to life and reminded me of the wonderful home and family I had, and still do have. I hope I can see you again soon.
Yet, after the visit, I felt a deep pain. It was like that part of me that was brought back to life by seeing you was once again able to feel sorrow and loss. Maybe you felt the same way. But I would not run from that pain at all. It is a sign of life, and signs of life are good.
The other day, a little baby bird fell out of the nest in the rec cage. One of the prisoners scooped it up and tried to nurse it back to health. It had a broken leg. For the first day it was chirping and fighting and eating. Though he was obviously hurting, it was a sign of struggle. By the morning of the third day, the bird showed no signs of pain. But he was listless. He was calm. He was resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to make it. And sure enough, later that day he gave up the ghost.
As I looked at this dying bird, I thought to myself, “my spirit is not yet to this place of calm resignation. I have not yet welcomed the absence of pain or the departure of hope. Good.” When I saw you at the visit, it stirred something in me that I am glad is not dead. Even if it hurts. I’m still alive. I’m still kicking. I’m not slipping away.
I love you mom. You were and are a good mother. I inherited your durability and robustness of heart. You taught me how to not sit down and quit. Thank you. You loved me and believed in me and sent me “off into the world to seek my fortune” — like the Three Little Pigs in the story you used to read to us kids. And this story is not over yet. I’ll get back on my feet. I’ll seek my fortune. All will be well. And when I survive this storm that’s trying to huff and puff and blow my life down, I’ll know that from the very beginning you stood by me.
Thank you so much. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. You were the perfect match for me. I love you.
–Schaeffer May 12th, 2019