It dawned upon me that the one-year mark of my 2007 scheduled execution was approaching. The emotions of that day still have not resided and perhaps they never will, though I find myself getting stronger each day and my vision is getting clearer.
I’ve never been much for celebrating “events” in prison. I can’t relate to most holidays and I never feel enough freedom to experience TRUE joy in my celebrating. But, I have found ways to smile and enjoy the beautiful things that we pull out of this type of situation. When the joy and pain combine it’s kind of like something a man named Walter S. Landor said: “A smile is ever the most bright and beautiful with a tear upon it.”
So, I decided to enjoy myself. I decided to let the disciplines down for a moment to pull back into myself and rejoice in what has manifested for me. I had to tell myself- “OK, no level 2 or level 3. No hunger strike right now. Enjoy the moment.
What better way to set things off than with some celebration cake? So, the first thing I did, a few days before the anniversary day, was to buy me a cake (OK, it was more so a pie). There’s some creative cooks around here. When you have very little to deal with I suppose you become a genius at making something out of nothing. So, I ended up with a banana pudding pie, which I sinfully ate. But, no regrets this day. It was a day to enjoy.
I let a few days pass before I went into mode 2. I decided to cook a special meal for me and my cellmate. That would be accomplished with what I have coined as: the double decker pizza. For those that have tasted this, this has become a favorite request from me (yeah- I’ve picked up some of those creative cooking skills too). What was strange about this day was I had somehow thought that it was the 30th. I can’t explain how I lost a day. I can only think that perhaps it was all the anticipation I had approaching my review. But, maybe it was something else that caused me to wake on the 29th and begin my celebration. I wouldn’t catch that understanding until later that day when a comrade inquired about why I was celebrating that day. With a “You don’t know why” expression on my face I lifted my left arm and showed him the Texas Tears tattoo on the back of my arm and highlighted the 8.30.07 date inked into my skin. He left off a little smile and told me- “But today is the 29th.” Like Homer Simpson- “DOH!” But, it wasn’t as bad of a bungle as I thought. When I later told another comrade of mine about the event he gave me this:
“You didn’t mess up. You celebrated just right. You see- the 29th is the TRUE day that you went through your trauma. It’s the day they kidnapped you and it’s the day you were dragged into the death house. It was the day that you first saw the death chamber room. So, you can see the 29th as your demise and you can see the 30th as your resurrection.”
And there it was. Everything was as it was supposed to be. I went to bed with a smile on my face and in my heart. By the time the 30th came I felt like I had celebrated plenty with cake, pizza and excitement, so I took this day to simply reflect on my life and give thanks for having this opportunity. Looking at those that have been murdered after me, looking at the complications with the Jeff Wood case I still wonder how/why I am here. I realize it’s due to something greater than me and I realize that this doesn’t come free for me. There’s not a moment that thanks is not emitted from my heart and I realize that I have to do all I can to show that. For those that campaigned for me a year ago I understand how potent this was to them. I understand the power of August 30th (as Bryan McCann would demonstrate to me when he tattooed 8.30.07 on his left arm). 8.30.07 has become a mantra.
I would end my day with prayers and appreciation and also the hope that one day I will celebrate 8.30.07 in the company of my loved ones and also the masses. It’s something that I am fighting for and it’s something that I can’t surrender. And I do realize that this is only the beginning. August 30, 2008 was a great day, but the best is yet to come.