Letters

My uncle sends me letters from prison from time to time. With his colorful past, he has done this for quite some time. I’m pretty sure he has spent more time on the inside longer than I’ve been on this planet. We have met in person without inches of glass and a telephone between us. We have established a close relationship to the point that I see him more as a father than my own. With his gang affiliation, he did some bad things that ended him up where he is now. We have had many conversations about why he did what he did and how in his mind, it was justified given the circumstance. I can go either way on this. It is sad to see the situation some of us are put in and the very few positive options we are given. When we have to steal and harm others for the sake of our own survival, we have to justify it within ourselves. I don’t I will ever know (nor do I wish to know) the full extent of what he has done and his contributions whether positive or negative to society. Should he be punished for his tasks, absolutely. Is it an unfortunate situation? Do I wish things were different and wish he never had to deal with the band hand he has been dealt, of course.

If you were to ask me if I think he has a chance at getting out alive, I would say I doubt it. As sad and sappy as this sounds, I have to consider both sides of the spectrum. I wish him the best but the realist / cynic in me keeps me humble. In between trips to jail I have had deep conversations with him and although some things he may have said have gone over my head when they were first said, they have resonated with me and have had a valuable impact on my life. He is a troubled soul who had to find out how to deal with things the hard way. With his temper and lack of education, he resorted to drugs and violence to get his points across to others. Could he be a victim of his own environment, or is it all based on his own personal decisions? I could argue one point just as much as the other. The point I am trying to make is that despite how things came into place, we are now dealing our everyday lives regardless how different they may be.

With this letter he has sent, we keep each other updated with what is going on in our lives. Not much needs to be said on that intimate level ¬†anymore since we have established that years ago. He is turned to a more religious path with his time spent in a cell (I might even consider that route given the isolation and corrupt behavior.) While this is not for me, we are finding ourselves on our own. It feels good to get something tangible in the mail that someone took time out to send to you. I forget about that too often to remember. I have shunned a lot of friends and family in the past. Maybe it’s because I fear the risks that come with any intimate relationship and don’t want to be hurt. I cannot say my loneliness is putting a damper on my life. It is a time for me to think and reflect, just the same as my uncle has done for many years incarcerated.

When I think about all the first-world problems I have to deal with from time to time, it is humbling to also consider how much worse my life could have been. Letters from Jason remind me that I am in a good place. During the last few months of her life, my grandmother made me realize that I have it good and that I could have become an alcoholic to the point of getting seizures from withdrawal like she did. These little stir-ups have boxed me up as a person. I am fine with that, it is something I have to live with and will do without embarrassment. Thinking about where I’ve come from helps with things that are going on in the present date and time. I haven’t reflected on things such as this in a long time and have forgotten the rewards they bring. Just like letters from prison that make you feel glad you ended up where you did.

-DFJ

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