This Christmas will be the second Christmas that we've had to spend it away from our Son Eric. The good news is that He gets out of jail later this next year. No more Thanksgivings or Christmas's or Birthdays away from his family. No more being separated from his fiancee and their daughter Halle. She will be 1 and a 1/2 years old when he gets out and he hasn't been able to hold her yet except for the day she was born! (he was allowed a 12 hour leave from jail for her birth) No more missing out on the hugs and kisses, no more missing out on the wonderful times of playing together and watching her learn and grow. This time of confinement has been the worst and the hardest time anyone could have. Where as most would spend time in a prison, Eric's time, at his own request to avoid prison time, has been in a jail cell, a cell without visits to family except through a monitor screen in separate rooms by a phone line once each week for an hour. No music, no TV, not even allowed to go out doors except for maybe five or six times a year for a brief moment. He's paid his price and he's done it well.
I'm constantly amazed at his ability to keep it together inside like he has. His spirit is tested often, daily and even minute by minute, but his heart is still so kind and gentle that even the other inmates tell him he's like a fish out of water in jail. He just doesn't belong there, his life is not one that should have lead him to three years in Jail, but with drugs... none of that matters. With drugs controlling you, it doesn't matter if you went to church every Sunday, it doesn't matter if you are a Christian, it doesn't matter that you even went on a mission trip to Brazil, never mind that you played in the youth praise band. Sure you look like you don't fit in, but with drugs in your life, prison or dead is where you will end up every time. Satan's best tool of destruction I believe is substance abuse and dependency. He's destroyed many lives with drugs, but thank God, through the power of Christ as our Lord, His spirit can and does overcome any and all obstacles that Satan throws our way. We have POWER! We have VICTORY! Because... We have JESUS! So set backs like this one my son is going through are only temporary and even this time alone, locked up away from loved ones and friends, can still be meaningful if kept in perspective.
I just wanted say to my son Eric, "Well Done Son, well done."
You may wonder what it is that leads me to say... "Well Done." It's not just that Eric has managed to stay friendly and kind even in a jail cell with 12 other inmates together in a room the size of your living room. Room enough for 6 bunk beds to fit and with 12 men in there bumping around into each other, well you can imagine what it must be like. Keep in mind as well, that the guys your spending time with have a history in most cases of a criminal background. Men that in most cases have a history of breaking the rules and of disobedience. It not a good mix!
I believe that this time in jail has been good for one thing, it's helped Eric to realize what's important in his life. It's easy... to easy to take what we have for granted. Time with family, hugs, kisses, music, walking outdoors, good food, think about anything you like and then think about it being gone... you almost can't remember what it was like after a long enough period of time. Eric says you just become numb and you eventually become consumed with what little routine you can develop inside. You begin to forget about what it must be like to sleep on a soft bed. What it must be like to be able to lay your head on a pillow again. To sit on a soft couch, or to listen to music again. You forget what real food taste like or even smells like. To be able to touch someone, to hug someone. It's very easy to become bitter and lose hope. But my son hasn't given up, he's stayed strong, and he's always lifting my spirits when we visit by phone once in a while.
Eric has topped all of the gifts this year. As I look at our Christmas tree with all the gifts under it, I realize that none of the presents are worth near as much as the gift's Eric got us this year. You see in jail, you have no tools or supplies to make gifts, you don't have access to buy gifts, usually a nice letter is about all you would expect from a loved one in jail at Christmas time. But not this year. Eric has been planning Christmas for his family for many months. He created a 7 days of Christmas theme for his future wife Marcie. He has sent her a series of letters that she can only open as she counts down each of the 7 days prior to Christmas. Each letter has special things that he's written her that have special meaning to him and her together. Each letter contains a gift as well. These gifts have taken months to create with limited supplies. Baby shoes that you can hang from your review mirror, all made out of playing cards (you have to see to believe) A Dream Catcher that you can hang in you bedroom all made out of bags and wrappers and thread torn from a shirt, (again you would have to see to believe) He's traded food for a special gift, a drawing, that he wanted to give Marcie of a beautiful Rose with her name on it. (he can't draw so he had to pay someone else to make it for him) But he sacrificed so he could give it to her for Christmas. He made a doll for Halle that is absolutely magnificent! It's made out of a white sock and it's been stuffed with t-shirt and her dress was sewn out of a bed sheet. He made the thread from ripping apart a sheet and pulling the fabric apart to get thread to sew with. He used a tooth of a comb as a needle to sew with. The doll is wonderful. On our last day of visitation before Christmas (this last Friday) Eric gave the doll he had made to one of the guards and he brought it out and gave it to me to give to Marcie. As they sat there in the monitor room talking over the phone, Marcie gave the doll to Halle, and her eyes lit up and she hugged on that doll like I've never seen her hug before. She layed the doll up against her cheek and gave that doll all the lovin she could. She loved it! Eric broke down, as did we all. It was special moment for Eric, Marcie and Halle. It was the Christmas presents of all Christmas presents!
Today I'm sitting here looking at our Christmas tree with the gifts and I think about all the money we've spent on gifts this year... and none of those gifts under the tree compare to ones he's given Marcie and his daughter Halle.
Now you see why I say... Well Done Son, well done!
I love you so much, you make me so proud. Thank you for reminding me of what true love is all about. What a gift you've given us this year. Thank you!