I am finally blessed to share with all of you one of the greatest pieces of news in my life, though some of you have already heard. Nevertheless, it’s something to shout to the roof tops.
It’s often hard to celebrate in this place due to the surroundings and also the circumstances, but a man that binds himself to tragedy more than triumph is in a prison far harder that the stone and steel one that encases me.
In my first book (« Tribulation’s Eyes) I cite the quote:
« Difficulties show men what they are. In case of any difficulty God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.”
That is a quote that I breathe and spiritually tattoos my skin, because I know it pertains to me. Through everything that I have been through I know there is a greater purpose and everyday it unfolds and each accomplishment is a verification to that fact.
All of this stems from me getting my first contact visit with my daughter Nydesha in 12 years. 12 LONG years! For those that know my story know that the last time I held my daughter she was 8 months old. I have watched her grow up behind glass and only by the Grace and Guidance of God did we grow together regardless of the circumstances. Though separated by glass we did remain connected at the root!
We (me and my family) had been looking for the right time to bring my daughter down for a visit. My grandfather being a former teacher for over 30 years- is never easy on school missing. That’s just a rule embedded in him, so I had to haggle with him a bit about getting Nydesha down during school hours. So, we were waiting for the next holiday to approach. But, it dawned upon me that I needed to remind my grandfather to a few things: one was that we should live in the moment. Just as we could not predict the future a year ago we cannot predict the future today, therefore we should enjoy each day to the fullest. And since it has been 12 long years it wouldn’t hurt if she missed one day of school for this occasion. The second thing that I had to remind him of (which wasn’t easy, but it was necessary) was that this IS prison and that I cannot guarantee my status from-day to day. I would love to be able to promise you all that I’ll always be trouble free, but that is not a promise I can or will make. While I can control me, I cannot control my environment. I walk among the hopeless, childish, the criminal minded, the passive, the honest and the devious. At any time anything can happen. It happens all the time. And at the same time I can never predict the action of an officer; officers who bring their personal problems to work and take it out on prisoners. For those that know me, they know that I prefer to die on my feet than live on my knees, so my walk is like that upon a knife’s edge. I forever walk cautiously and carefully.
Thankfully the Thanksgiving holiday came. We had made plans for October, but the system-wide lockdown prevented that.
While I wasn’t officially told Nydesha was coming I did have the feeling that on November 22nd I was going to visit with her and once I stepped into the visiting room and saw her- her back to me, long hair flowing- I could only hope that this wasn’t a dream and I’d be waking up with that longing heart again.
The day wasn’t a dream and as I approached the table and she got up to hug me, I could have died at that point and not regretted a thing. I hugged my baby girl so tight, lifting her up to the sky, to where I didn’t want to let go. There was no room for tears this day- only room for lots of kisses and hugs.
I was finally able to sit down with my child without glass being in front of us and I took advantage of the moment. I held her hand, soaked in every piece of her face, ran my fingers through her silky hair and just absorbed the moment. I had to tell her to excuse me because I simply had to make sure this wasn’t a dream- those dreams where I wake up to find myself within those white walls knowing contact wasn’t allowed. All those days that I wondered if I would die without ever getting to touch my family again. The amerikkkan dream, you know! And I also had to tell her that I was making for lost times. She understood.
I am proud to say that Nydesha and I have a special bond that is beyond words. You might be surprised to hear that I have been criticized about voicing what our bond is like. I remember a person that I used to write telling me how calling Nydesha my « little twin » or « soul mate » was nice, but what did it really do when it was time to feed, clothe and care for the child. It was a low blow, but I accepted the punch humbly, because I understand that no man can TRULY call himself a father from inside these walls. Even if we had every dollar in the world to care for the child NOTHING makes up for the physical and spiritual touch needed. I understand and I have never claimed to be more than I am nor claimed more than I can do. But, for those that know, know how much I go out my way for Nydesha- be it asking friends to remember her on birthdays or be it me saving funds from poetry books sales to send to her instead of having it sent to my prison account. It’s not much, but I try. And all that counts in my world is that Nydesha accepts the effort and the bottom line is SHE has embraced me as her father, more than her daddy and always her confidant. So, nothing else matters to me, but that one opinion.
So, the visits were great. We visited on the 22nd for 2 hours and the 23rd for 4, then we got one 2 hour visit on the 29th which I shared with my dad as well and one of Nydesha’s friends Sierra. During this last visit we sat on the outside patio because the weather was nice. Keeping with its weird make-up it was probably in the high 70’s that day- a beautiful day for a picnic and we imitated one as best as we could (bees and all flying over our heads). Ironically enough her friend Sierra had a play uncle that was executed on death row a few years back. Since she doesn’t know his full name I’m unable to know if I knew the guy, but once again it’s amazing how God ties certain people together (they met at a church camp). And so we have family with extended family. And this was a moment that I shared for all my brothers on death row with children. There’s too many times that I saw the children in tears or the children saying their last goodbyes. I’m not the first to leave death row, but am maybe the first to have fought like I did, came as close as I did- so I give a special victory salute under those circumstances.
The week was topped off with my return to work in the kitchen (for those that know I was on medical unassigned for a month and a half after a spider bite on my right elbow). I returned on the 26th- right before Thanksgiving (BIG smile). I was able to work on Thanksgiving, which (by being in the kitchen) meant turkey and cakes galore! I don’t want to embarrass myself with how much I ate, but let’s say I had plenty and had it the way that I wanted it (meaning I didn’t need any vegetables to help fill me up). Though in my politically correct mind I don’t « celebrate » Thanksgiving I’ll tell you like I told those around me- « Though we might not celebrate this holiday (due to the TRUE history of the natives and those that came to these lands) it doesn’t mean we can’t take them for everything they’re worth. » And we tried.
Being able to sit and be with my daughter in this fashion has rejuvenated me. It has given me the extra strength I need to keep on pushing, because I still face losses and hard times. And some know of what I speak, but we won’t focus on the negative. I know no other way than turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones, so nothing changes. It seems like I’ve always had this clairvoyant gift (see predictions like my writing « 8-cage’~), because I called it right once again in my poem « Real Talk » (see my MySpace page). But, every adversity remains my motivation and-my motivation is something that can’t be tamed.
I thank God for these last 2 weekends with my daughter. We are looking forward to a Christmas visit or maybe in January. Now, with a 12 year-old, I’ve finally begun to experience those parent horrors- boyfriends, make-up, shopping, cell phones, and anything else you can think of. My goodness. All I can say is ALL HAIL THE MOTHERS OF THIS WORLD. No wonder female activist and writers have been the ones with the most influence on my spirit. What you do and who you are is one thing I do celebrate.
And so, we take this as one more step towards the greater victory to come. I thank those of you that have remained as an encouragement for my struggle, for those comrades in Texas that spends time with Nydesha when she’s here and most of all I thank those for their prayers that prayed for this day to happen. My heart is heavy today but this time it’s not from pain, it’s from Love.
Talk to you all soon.