My dad, my sister "M" and I were granted a visit with Chad yesterday. He is in a maximum security unit at the jail so he isn't allowed visitation or phone privileges. Being that "M" was in town and we weren't sure when she might be able to see Chad again, gratefully the Chief approved an hour visit with Chad for the three of us. I haven't seen Chad since my first visit with him at the beginning of October so I was excited to see him and be able to share it with my dad and sister.
Walking through the parking lot and up to the building you can't help but look at the people entering and leaving the jail for visitation. Jails carry a stereotype in my opinion and I understand why. But if you have never been to or in as a visitor, it's easy to think the worst of the worst are their to visit the very worst of the worst. Not so. Not so at all!!! There are all different walks of life with different stories that enter through for visitation with an inmate. People dressed in their Sunday best, grandma's, grandpas, mom's, dad's, friends, aunt's or uncle's taking little one's into visit THEIR mommy's or daddy's or another relative. Upper, middle, and lower class NORMAL looking individuals all walking in and around the jail. Some look as if they are worried beyond belief and holding on with all their might. Some who you can tell it must be their very first time experiencing such a thing and they aren't sure of the process and there are those who have done this many, MANY times and it is just routine. In fact when you visit enough times, you begin to see the same people from time to time and if either of you are inclined to talk, you realize how many of us really are in the same boat....... just for different reasons, and you quickly realize, a bond has been created. Then you see those looking at you with the look that asks through their eyes "who are you here for and what did your inmate do?" I'm sure I have had that very same look on my face a time or two. Different walks of life making a jail visit to a loved one as part of their everyday lives JUST....LIKE....US!
We were put in a room with cold, cinder-block walls, two stainless steel stools and a huge window to separate us from Chad. An empty, sterile appearance best describes the room. We waited for maybe 10 minutes while they transported Chad from his pod to the area we were in. He arrived; red scrubs accessorized with a chain around the waist with Chad's hands handcuffed and attached to the chain in the front of him and his ankles shackled with handcuffs. I hate seeing him like this but I have so many times before that while I really never get used to it, I know what to expect. He looked great. He looked at me and I looked him and just smiled and said hi. He was a little dark under the eyes and thin but it is NIGHT and DAY from his mug shot.
He is doing as good as can be expected under the circumstances he endures. He is locked up for 23 hours a day in his own cell. They aren't the type of cells that have bars. They have doors that have holes in them to circulate the air. The inmates can't see each other unless they are being escorted outside of their cells. They only way they communicate is by talking through the doors. He said they memorize each other's voices and that's how they know who they are talking too. Because of his security level, the only commissary he is allowed is hygiene, envelopes, paper and pencils. He said this jail is a lot different from SL County and it has its pro's and con's but he is adapting and doing what he must do.
Having that much time in a cell with NO T.V. and no "out" time other than his hour to shower and exercise, he has a LOT of thinking time and it sucks he says. It's hard on the mind but he's getting used to it. He reads when he is able to get a book and writes letters and that helps him. He is anxious to leave the jail. He is ready to face sentencing and just wants it to be done and over with so he can be moved and start his new life and begin facing what he must, his punishment! I have no idea what is going on in regards to that part of things. That is something for Chad and his lawyer to know and when sentencing comes, that is when I will know, unless he decides to tell me before that.
I'm so happy my sister got this time as well. It is excruciating for her because she lives so far away. The miles of distance and the "not knowing" get to her and she has had many breakdowns because truly at times, this is unbearable to live with. I have had one breakdown thus far. It happened last week. I have avoided his room at all costs as I have mentioned before. I feel like he has passed away, therefore it's so hard for me to walk in a room with his belongings and scent. Remembering him in his room, cleaning it or folding his clothes or just walking in there while he slept, making sure he was ok and telling him I loved him. It's unbelievably raw!! But with "M" coming up, I had to put the comforter on the bed after the bedding had been cleaned.
What an eery feeling to confront. A room in my very own house that I have to become reacquainted with. I picked up the white T-shirt he last wore before he changed and left Sunday, September 19th. I held it with both hands, squeezing it to my face and breathing him into my heart and mind. The uncontrollable tears welled out of my eyes and I just let them flow. They drenched my eyes and face and it felt so good to let them go but man I was and continue to be SO heartbroken. I want my brother back damn it!!!!!! I want her to be alive!!!! I want all of this to go away, not be real, be that nightmare I'm still begging to be shook out of. But sadly, it's not. It's no longer what I want anymore, it's what it is and what it is is what we will all have to learn to live with as we continue to breathe and live on.
It's been 4 days since "M" has been here and she has yet to sleep in his room. It was difficult enough hanging her clothes next to his in the closet and just being in there. We both do the same thing when we go in there, go in quick and get out quick. It's straight up HORRIBLE!!!!
Our visit came to a bittersweet end. We said our good-bye's and turned to leave. I had yet to take my first steps to walk out of the room when I looked back for a quick look at him only to find my brother lying flat on his back on the floor laughing. I shouted out "are you okay, what happened?" as we all looked back at him. The shackles around his feet somehow got stuck on the stool I guess and he lost his balance and fell backwards. Of course we were laughing to because he was but I was so scared for him. When he jumped off the 2nd floor balcony a few nights after his arrest, he broke his L5 vertebrae and now he has fallen backwards on his already injured back. GOOD HELL!!!! The laughing among us all after we realized what happened and as we watched him pull himself up definitely lifted the heavy hearts we began to have as our visit came to an end but I still had to take those steps to leave. I kept looking back for one more look. I don't know when I will see Chad again but I thank you Deputy Chief Yeaman from the bottom of my heart for giving me, my sister and my dad today!!!