In three days I will be halfway across the country picking up my nephew as he is released from prison. I say nephew, but we’re actually more like mom and son at this point. We’ve been through a lot together. Twice before I tried to offer him a stable base, once when he was a little boy and once as a very damaged teenager but at those times neither of us had the maturity or depth to make it work. This time is different; he and I both have been through a good deal of refining fire and love has grown much stronger than fear or frustration.
At the beginning of 2018, knowing I had about a year to get ready to bring him into my home and help him launch the rest of his life, I set a goal to have the resources in place to do the very best for him. Last year didn’t go quite as planned on the financial front as the legal battle with the Oregonian dragged on and on and extra, unexpected expenses popped up and yet, I leave in three days with the resources I need.
It doesn’t look like I’d envisioned, with me making a ton of money, having a chunk in savings for my nephew and having the drain of legal battles being behind me, etc., but I have what I need to offer love and huge opportunity to this young man. My life partner has been unbelievably supportive, with his time, big-hearted acceptance and a sense of humor about the complication this is no doubt going to add to our lives. He even purchased our airline tickets. Bless you Beloved — truly, I am such a lucky woman. Friends have stepped up out of the blue with financial help, enthusiasm and offers of mentorship. My mom has been saving money for my nephew to purchase clothes. My spiritual community has held this journey and transition in prayer every single day for several weeks now.
It’s just amazing and more than any other experience in my life proves that we really are all in this life together. Whether we notice it or not we are all supported by a vast matrix of people who touch our lives in a million ways big and small. Everywhere I look in this situation I see where other people, even strangers, have supported us. Not just the obvious examples, but also the teacher who delivered the GED program at the prison and the voc-tech director and trainers who helped my nephew navigate through his electrician’s apprenticeship and even other inmates who were rooting for him and helping protect him as he neared his release date. Beauty sometimes shows up even in the darkest of places.
So many times these past few weeks I’d have a little stab of nervousness about the disruption of bringing this big guy into my little home and all the changes that will come with it. But each time that little flicker of fear would slither in, it was instantly replaced with the words, “Love is never wrong.” Over and over again those words ran through my mind. I don’t believe I’ve ever more genuinely just expressed and embodied love for another human being. The ripples go beyond our direct relationship and even beyond those still living.
A few years ago, as I was going through an extraordinarily challenging, traumatic time I was working with a therapist and was surprised to be having a lot of difficult, regretful memories and emotions around my late sister (my nephew’s mother). I found myself wishing I had been mature enough to be there for her when she slipped further and further into drugs, depression and despair and our family pulled away. The therapist suggested I write a love letter to my sister and as I worked on that I realized the best love letter I could offer her was helping her son make it through the horrific ordeal of prison and launch a healthy life on the other side. “Sis, if you’re listening, and I believe you are, your boy is in good shape and he’s about to be safe and in a stable place with a really good job. He is full of hope, gratitude and promise. I hope you are smiling. I love and miss you. Thank you for all the kindness you showed me.”
I guess it’s fitting that I keep thinking of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, and especially the scene near the very end where Red has finally gotten out of prison and is in a bus headed to Mexico to join his friend Andy. Red says, “I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.” Red felt that way from finally realizing freedom. I’m feeling that way in anticipation of witnessing a loved one leave a horrible situation and finally land in a safe place where he can spread his wings and soar.
I didn’t consciously choose it, and I couldn’t see the full pattern of it until very recently, but my nephew and I are on a sacred journey together and if you’re reading this I guess in some small way you’ve joined the adventure. I share this in part just to express my excitement but also, hopefully, to provide a little inspiration to those of you who may be having a hard time, struggling, and who may feel like the circumstances swirling through your life are keeping you imprisoned. I know how hard that is and I also know no storm lasts forever. We are always swimming in a matrix of support, new opportunities are endless and freedom really is a choice. And, maybe most importantly, genuine love is never wrong.
We really are all in this together. Thanks for being part of this journey. Stay tuned and YIKES!!