Jail Break - or break from jail? Ja'Nette was right. I would need this time to recharge, take a break, reconnect. The way this sentence is working out is stretching me to my limits, just sliding under the radar of what I can take with a positive attitude.
As much as I thought about and wanted my 'normal life,' it has taken longer than I expected to settle back into 'normal life' on the outs. I came home to a clean house, shampooed carpets, happy kids, and a completely worn out husband. (Should I smile, as I understand, or appreciate him that much more? Both, of course!) You'd think that I'd just slip right back in and assume my role. My friends and family support has exceeded all expectations! I am amazed at how efficient everyone worked together. My mother-in-law took on so much of my responsibilities, people brought in food, kids assumed regular school, practices, and activities. I should have known, but it's so good to hear and see and know! A piece of me is so glad, but another small piece kind of wonders if they missed me while they were being so efficient.
Jason and I sat on the couch the night I got home and talked for about 2 hours. Maybe it was a mutual unspoken agreement that we both knew where to draw the line. We have never had secrets, but sharing some of the hardest things we each endured this week didn't need to be said. For the first time, I felt like I should hold back and not spill everything that came to my mind. Maybe when it's all over and done with I will share, but I don't want him to worry the next time I go to jail. (Who says that? - 'The next time I go to jail') The parts of his week that were rough, he didn't need to share with me either and I didn't pry. It was like we were protecting each other and already beginning to brace ourselves for the next round. I know he had a hard time - maybe emotionally more than anything - after all, his wife is in jail and with very limited communication! I am so thankful for those that pulled my load while I was gone, to give him 100 less things to worry about.
One thing we did talk about was the strong feeling I have to share our story. I am hesitant and nervous and I don't know how it's all supposed to work out, but we agreed that if that feeling - that prompting - is real, then I should put myself out there. Can I do that? It kind of feels like going to sit at the table full of doctors again to hear what they have to say about me and shaking so bad inside that I can't move or talk or breath. Can I put myself out there again for the whole world to see and judge and hear what we've been through? Am I willing to share Bryer? I'm so protective of her sweet little spirit. She has come so far, but I don't want people to only see what she still lacks. When I have scared feelings like this, I remind myself that God does not bring fear. I did a quick scripture search and found 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Jason is supportive of me sharing, but neither of us understand why.
Some of my highlights since I've been home...
Bryer has been good about going to sleep in her own bed, and then when she can't get comfortable on her own in the middle of the night she cries and I bring her to bed to snuggle with us. (Different than any of our other kids!) She can roll over when she's awake, but it still takes concentration, so rolling to get comfortable while she's half asleep is tricky, and trying to get her back to sleep is even trickier. My first night home I I tiptoed upstairs to check on the kids and kiss them good night before I went to bed. Bryer's bed was empty. I turned around in the hallway and Jason looked sheepish and just shrugged his shoulders. I knew by the look on his face that he had started a bad habit of letting her start out the night snuggled in our bed.
Crawling into bed, she woke enough to know it was me and then her eyes popped open and over and over she said, "Mom! Mom..... Mom! (giggle) Mom!" I laugh just thinking about it. After 9 days of missing my family like crazy, I didn't even care if she ever went back to sleep!
I worried so much about Bryer regressing while I was gone and saying 'uk' when she wants to get 'up' out of bed. We worked so hard on that one word for 2 weeks and she had just finally gotten it. The next morning she was just as excited to see me as she was when I went to bed the night before. When she was ready to get up, she said, "Mom..... (giggle) UP!" Music to my ears!
Christmas may never be the same at our house. Sickness poured through each one of us. It ended with Jason, a few days before Christmas. 2 guys from church came to check on us and noticed our tree was still sitting outside, so they helped bring it in and set it up. We barely got the lights on before Christmas Eve. Funny that it didn't bother the kids at all. They were still just as excited to have the tree up and their school-made ornaments stuck out as the only ones on the tree this year. Spending time reading, laughing, and enjoying them has been more important than the decorations this year.
I suppose I should have planned better and shopped more before I went to jail, but I was busy getting prepped for that. It has been a rush to fill each of their 3 gifts. We decided a couple years ago to re-create a part of the first Christmas in our home. Baby Jesus received 3 gifts from the wisemen, so we have given each of the kids 3 gifts of their own. One is fun (we let Santa take care of that one), one is needful, and one is spiritual. It helps Jason and I focus on each of those needs as we make lists and shop. It's simplified and rejuvenating and helps us stay focused on the reason for Christmas.
Just like every Christmas since Bryer was in the hospital, we have very few pictures of Christmas morning. That Christmas 3 years ago our time with our kids was so limited. So when we were together - and especially on Christmas morning - I wanted to be right in the action soaking it all up. I didn't want to be an onlooker taking pictures of them having so much fun. They have opened their gifts and gone through their stockings sitting right on my lap or bunched up next to me on the floor. I don't want to miss a thing by sitting behind my camera! Each Christmas since has been similar.
|One of the few Christmas pictures we have, after my Mom gave us all matching long johns (some were more excited to pose than others)!|
Karen and Robin sent me home with gifts too. What was in the wrapping paper (er, tissue paper that wraps a new roll of toilet paper) was an ipad from Robin. (Eyes drawn on a pad.) I laughed and laughed at her creativity! When I opened Karen's gift, I thought about the day she had received a package of new underclothes from her Mom. She kicked her feet up on the stool of the metal table next to her, locked her hands behind her head while she leaned back and said, "I'm sitting here eating a piece of chocolate, wearing underwear that no one has ever worn before. It just doesn't get much better than this." I laughed so hard. Who knew wearing brand new underwear - not jail issued, used bleach-stained underwear - would be such a highlight?! In the package she gave me one of the pairs of her brand new underwear and a pair of brand new socks. For her to give away such a sacrifice made me laugh - and then miss her that much more. Missing girls in jail. Hmmm.... ya, didn't see that one comin!
Facebook has not been on my priority list. But after a few days of being at home and thinking about Karen, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see if I could find her just to see what a 'real' picture of her looked like. In jail we have no make up, no hair products (except for pump hairspray which is stretched longer by adding a jolly rancher to it with water when it gets low), no accessories, no cute clothes. I had gotten to know her in her plainest of plain days and had grown to love her. When I found her profile picture, I had to really look close. Hidden behind all the thick eye make up, red lips, party-going outfit, and heavy, sparkling accessories was the friend that God sent for me and who was a lifesaver for my 9 days. Had I passed her on the street, I may have walked right on by without any eye contact. You just never know who a person is on the inside, what they crave, how they hurt, how strong they are, what they struggle with, what they need. You just never know!
They say prison changes a person. Ha ha, Funny. Right? But I am forever changed after just 9 days! Not for worse, like the saying implies though. It is what you make of it. I'll try to put my feelings into words. Today at church we sang the opening hymn. Same ol' Sunday, same ol' people, same ol' routine getting ready. But as I looked around at all these people sitting around me in the chapel, united in their singing, I felt so overwhelmingly blessed. I have been reminded what it's like for others that don't have that support. We all vary so much in our relationship with God. We all make mistakes through the week. But I gain so much strength in coming back every Sunday and finding a place in the crowd to worship, to try to remember why I'm here doing what I'm doing. And sitting in a chapel full of imperfect people that are starting a fresh, new week right along side me. Even though I sit in a chapel full of people, I can feel His individual love for me. I love being completely submerged in this gospel. I want that for these girls that hurt so bad. I want them to know that He doesn't 'take it all away,' but that he does help us along and answer our prayers and put people in place to bear our burdens. Why can't there be a foster care program for adults who need to be submerged in good and can accept all the blessings?!
By the end of the song, I couldn't even sing, I was so emotional. If that first hour of church wasn't enough, I ended with the third hour of church in a room full of women - friends, acquaintances and a couple visitors. There is something powerful in a room full of women. My mushy heart was right on the surface already, now ready to turn liquid. We sang a song together at the beginning of our meeting that I can't even recall what it was now, but I hope forever and ever that I remember the feeling that I felt in that room today. After the contrast of where I have been for 9 days, this feeling is what I craved. Soaking in that feeling, it reminds me of the song We're Sisters. It goes for those that sat in that room with me today, as well as those girls I have gotten to know over 9 days that I can't stop thinking about. And anyone in between. There is strength in women.
The strangest call I make all month is the call to the jail to reserve my bed. Like some twisted, crazy hotel reservation - who gets to pick and choose when they go to jail - and then call ahead to make sure there's room?!
Kids back to school after Christmas break - check.
Plan and carry out the monthly women's Relief Society activity - check.
Meal swapping accomplished - check.
Went to the temple - check.
Help at the school - check.
Family Night - check.
Go to jail - WHAT?!
I don't know if I will ever get used to this, but here we go again.
Jason and I agreed that 9 days was too long last time, so I'm going in for 7 this time, the minimum stretch I'm aloud. Check in Wednesday, January 8, 2014. I may be more nervous about going this time than I was last time just because I know what I'm going into now. Will the girls be the same? Will Karen be there? Will I have my own cell? Will Karen be my bunkie? Will someone else be my bunkie? Are the girls worse or better off than last time? Will we pick up where I left off? What drama has gone on while I've been enjoying my family? How full will the jail be? Will I have a top bunk with the light in my face?
My #1 prayer is for my family to be taken care of and protected while I am gone. A very close second - the most sincere prayer about jail - is the same as it was last time - that God will have a hand in who my bunkie is. Sharing such a small cell, toilet, sink, and routine with 1 girl for 7 days is an important detail of my life right now. I know that if it matters to me, then it matters to Him. Praying that I'm prepared for her, as well as her being prepared for me. Deep breath! He's in control....