August 2, 2014 –Birthday Party and Prison Thoughts
Today we celebrated my son’s 9th birthday. We had a lot of fun throwing a Minecraft themed party for him and six of his rambunctious friends. It really was a delight (although completely exhausting). However, I found myself mentally drifting away randomly throughout the day, thinking “In a few short days, I’m going to find out how long I’m going to be in federal prison.” Not if I’m going to prison, but how long. That’s a pretty big, dark cloud looming over a person. I’ve been told by others who have been through this journey that this is the hardest part, simply not knowing and living with the uncertainty. Others have told me horror stories of waiting for years until their fate was revealed. My “limbo” time has not stretched out that long, but we’re approaching the 9-month mark. If this truly is the most difficult period of time due to the uncertainty of my sentencing on August 8th, the hardest part will be over and the path to restoration begins.
As I lit the candles on my son’s cake and sang “Happy Birthday” along with everyone else, I couldn’t help but wonder how many birthdays I’ll miss. I have four children, all of them young, how many special memories will be foregone as a result of my imprisonment? How much pain will my absence cause them? What will the emotional toll will be on my wife, my amazing, loving, and supportive wife? Those questions are unanswerable; we will need to wait and see. Every day I understand just a little more how my family, particularly my kids, rely on me. They are well-adjusted, loving children who are often squealing with laugher and generally enjoying the simple things of life. How much disruption will occur when I am physically absent? I understand that they need me, but to what extent?
I try not overly focus on this mindset – it’s bordering on pity and is ultimately destructive. But sometimes I can’t help but think about it. Later in the evening when the party had ended and everyone had unwound from all the sugar, my two oldest kids were in our living room playing a video game. Stuck at a particularly hard part in the game, they both asked for my help. “Daddy, come here, we need you.” With no regard for the video game, I sighed heavily and said to myself under my breath, “I know you do.”