Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paper chess.

Got another letter from Chad yesterday. It wasn't long but I got out of it what I always want to know and that is....he's fine. He doesn't write often because he is "adjusting". He was moved from one unit to another but is still in R&O which means 23 hour lock down but now he has a window to look out. I know he is getting closer to being released into general population so I wonder if that's why he was moved.

He and his celly have a lot in common and play a lot of chess during the day. They made their pieces out of toilet paper. Wow....creative and I'm sure he will become much more creative as time goes on. I have never been fond of chess, I have to use my brain waaaaay too much for that game. Give me some checkers, go fish or Yahtzee and I'm down but I'm not about intense strategy so chess is out!

With his letter he sent me a bird he made...origami style. I LOVE IT!! I of course felt it too see if it was also made of toilet paper. It' wasn't. When you pull the back part of it, the wings flap. I will post a picture later. There is a joke behind it of course. For years now, I have always sang a portion of The Carpenters song "Close to You" around my brothers and sister. It drives them ALL crazy because once they hear it, it's stuck in their brain along with little birds fluttering around and that's all they hear for a day or two. ;) I have left them voice mails of me singing the lyrics, texted them the lyrics, snuck up on them while they're sleeping and sang it to them....ANY way I could find to get to them, I do. So Chad sent me my origami bird with part of the lyrics to that lovely song which by the way, I can't hit a note on to save mine or anybody else's life if it depended on it!! So a word of advice, don't count on me to sing if your in dire need, you won't make it and I will yet have another package of guilt lying upon my heart.

He went to court on December 9th in West Jordan. I guess that was because of violating his probation on the charges he had in that jurisdiction. He didn't say anything more than they moved it to another date in January. Weird.

That was about the jist of his letter. He had chess to win so he had to go. I know this time of year is the pits for Chad but I would give anything to have him home for Christmas. It's almost time for my Christmas baking I do every year. Cookies, candy, fudge....this year I'm adding cupcakes, and I know my brother would be right over my shoulder trying to sneak bites of the sweet stuff my kitchen has to offer.

I have thought much of "her name" family. I'm hoping their hearts are healing and they are finding happiness in this time of year. I hope "her name" is looking down on them, comforting them with her angel wings as they go about their daily lives. I pray if they are suffering, God will lead them through his grace and give them the strength and will to continue on for "her name" sake. Oh how I hope they are all ok at least and I hope they all have a very Merry Christmas and a much happier and better new year!

So until my next's my little jingle that cause's a stir of craziness in the siblings. Enjoy!!!

Why do birds suddenly appear?
Every are near?
Just like me, they long to be
close to you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Please write dad a letter Chad!

Still no mail for my dad from Chad. It's been three weeks since the last one and it's causing my dad major stress and concern. I haven't gotten another one either but my sister "M" did last week. Chad said he's doing good. He's met some interesting people and some not so interesting people. He was moved into another cell but is still in the R&O unit. Still locked up for 23 hours a day but he's getting used to it. He said it's not as bad as it was in jail since he has a celly to talk with. "M" said he sounded like he's doing good.

Dad called me yesterday morning and you could hear the distress in his voice. It breaks my heart hearing my dad hurt the way his voice gives away but he will NEVER admit it out loud. He's hanging by a thread and that's the best way I can put it. Dad asked me if I would make a call to the prison and see if I could talk to Chad's case worker just to make sure he's okay. I didn't think it would be possible but turns out you can talk with their case worker and that's just what I did.

Good news to deliver to my dad. Chad is fine!!!! His case worker said he doesn't seem to be under any stress, he isn't having any problems with anybody and reminded me they have medical and mental care 24/7 there for the inmates. I explained that we went to the orientation and learned so much that night but my dad is struggling with this and he just wants to know his son is okay. Chad's case-worker will tell him I called on behalf of our dad and ask him to write a letter to our dad.

I relayed the information to my dad and it seemed to relieve some of the uncertainty he's feeling with the "not knowing." I really don't know why Chad isn't writing as much as he has in the past. It's like I said to my dad, maybe he doesn't have much to say, maybe he is trying to come to terms with this, maybe he is trying to find himself and realizing how the drugs have unraveled his life...I don't know!! But we have to be patient and believe that when Chad says he is fine, he really is. That, besides my little white pill, is the only thing that is getting me through right now...simply banking on his words when he says he will be alright.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

F.O.- Family Orientation.

It's been a very long time since I have gone through any type of "orientation". I've been at my current place of employment for almost 7 years, I haven't been pregnant in over 15 years and I haven't enrolled in educational programs so there hasn't been a need. Yep, my life has been pretty uneventful up until the last few months but my years of not participating in an orientation ended last night.

I got a letter in the mail about a week and a half ago, on behalf of Chad, inviting me and other family members and friends with valid ID and no outstanding warrants to attend a family orientation the prison conducts the first Tuesday of every month. Dad and I felt it was important to go so we did.

The meeting wasn't held at the prison itself but rather across the freeway on the mountain across from the prison. In the building there were pictures of the prison, inside and out. I started at the picture of the cells reading the footnote explaining the context of the picture. Inmates are housed in a 12x8 cell, two inmates that is. The cell has a 2 bed bunk, a toilet, TV outlet and a 5 inch window. God I can't imagine or believe my brother's life, by his choice somewhat, has resorted to a 12x8 space for a 15 to life sentence. I cannot for the life of me wrap myself around the thought that anybody gets used to living like that. TWELVE BY EIGHT.........12x8!!!!! Sounds like the epitome of hell to me.

I had NO idea there would be so many people there. I was surprised quite frankly. We all ranged in age, some of us quite young to middle aged to the elderly. Parents, siblings, name it, and we were all there on behalf of a loved one who has just entered the Utah State Prison for one reason or another. I couldn't help but ask myself as I looked around in this room filled with people if they were going through the same hell I and my family were. What exactly have they gone through with their loved one? How many nights have they been awake fearing the worst? How many of them risked everything they had and lost it all helping their loved one who has now become an inmate in the prison system. You start wondering what their inmate is in for. Is it their first time? Are they as scared as I am at times? All of us are a relative of a person who did something bad enough or enough times that jail was no longer an option so prison bound they were.

The meeting went over general information about commissary, visitation, mail, medical, education and religion, IPP (Inmate Placement Program) and the Board of Parole & Pardons. There was a representative from each of those departments there to give us information regarding their particular area and answer questions any of us might have had. WOW...what a run down! Visitation is a MAJOR puzzle of confusion. The officer was a woman, gorgeous by the way, who presented the rules of visitation that even confuse her and she has been doing this for YEARS. Hard ass in an understatement in regards to her. She was VERY informative, very nice but hard as nails as I'm sure she needs to be in her line of work. A tall but slender lady she was but those are the one's you should worry about. After all, dynamite comes in small packages and she portrayed herself with a "put's up with no shit" mentality. I guess you would have too after seeing the things she does and has in her career and the loops a person will jump through to make it into the prison. I wonder if getting into Fort Knox is this entailed.

My dad and I were blown away over the amount of information provided and the answers to questions that were asked not to mention learning a whole new vocabulary or set of terms that are referred too in the system.

While each individual and their area in the prison was interesting, the one who relieved me the most was the chaplain. He discussed the educational, work and religious opportunities offered to each inmate. But what caught my attention the most and eased my heart was when he said "don't look at this as the end but rather a 2nd chance." Of course nobody says "hey let's go hang out at the prison for a day, that sounds fun" he went onto say. He reiterated that this time in the inmates life is a time for them put the pieces back together IF they want too and get involved in programs whether it's spiritual, educational or work, that can help them become better people so they when they leave, they don't return. Again it is all in the hands of the inmate when they get out of R&O and what is offered to them in their areas of general population whether or not they want give themselves that "2nd chance" to do on the inside what they couldn't on the outside.

The rules are STRICT and rigid but necessary to secure the safety of everybody involved. Some seemed a little out there and others made sense but I understood and understand why they are the way they are. After all, we are dealing with a population of thousands of people that have indulged themselves in the game of crime that finally caught up with them. Some might be high crime, others petty crime, some are violent, others are not, but when it comes down to it, it's all the same and it landed them in the big house. The only difference is the length of time an inmate will do for their criminal activity.

In regards to parole, a first degree felony offender, as in Chad, normally doesn't see the board for a minimum of 3 years however, because there are so many offenders, they are trying to now spread that out to 7 years. It will be at that first parole hearing if Chad is denied, that the board will decide the next time he will face them. It could be 6 months, a year or twenty years. Once you enter the prison system, your life is now in the hands of the board. THEY decide your fate and when you will be "walking to the gate". That's one of the new terms I learned last night and means when you walk out of prison and into freedom.

I'm glad I went and I'm glad my dad went with me. We have to stick together and do as much as we can in this particular situation as a family. It's the only way we might get through this. It was pitch black outside when we left. The meeting was almost 2 hours. As I said earlier, the building was up on the mountain so as we were walking to my car I could see the whole valley. A valley with thousands of moving cars, millions of flashing lights, and life in general going on with a well lit, razor fenced community of buildings housing a population of criminals right in the middle of it all. Life continues to go on right around these barriers and somewhere in one of those many buildings is my brother. My brother who I miss so much and love with every bit of my soul.

Monday, December 6, 2010

These people mean EVERYTHING to me!!

Our hearts our broken into a million little pieces but I think we might make it. One second, one minute, one hour, ONE day at at time.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I FINALLY got a letter from Chad last night. I was SO excited to open it that bringing anything in the house from my car, ie; coffee cup, dishes, purse or anything else meant very little in my moment of happiness. All I wanted to do was rip the sticky seal and read my brothers words. We have all been on edge not hearing from him, especially my dad, so this would be good news to deliver to him, that a letter has arrived.

I could tell a form was in the envelope. I knew it would the form I would need to fill out to begin the process of a background check to approve my visitations. The envelope wasn't thick so I was kind of wondering if the form was all he sent and nothing else and thinking how disappointed I would be if that was it. But it wasn't. Inside the form was a letter from my Chadly. He is doing very well. In reading the letter, I was actually able to hear his voice saying the words to me. He is still in lock down 23 hours a day but he's not secluded like he was in jail. He is able to talk to people and it's helps make the time go by fast. The food is "ten times better and all around the situation is much easier to handle than being secluded."

He was the only one who was able to order this week so I'm guessing that's why it took some time for him to write. He's being treated good and told me not to worry, he's gonna be alright!!!!!! He asked about Thanksgiving. They all had a standard but good Thanksgiving dinner at the prison with a pumpkin pie thing that he described as "the bomb." He also was able to eat a PB&J sandwich and LOVED it. LOL.

He wants me to tell you all hello , he is well and he is working on writing everyone. He said thanks to all who have written and put money on his books. The letters help tremendously.

I feel like 10 pounds was lifted off my shoulders after reading his letter. I know my brother loves me with all of his heart. He reminded me to smile because it makes everything better. Oh how I miss him terribly.

It's funny how we go through life doing our normal routines and getting so caught up in the day and it's offerings that we forget how much we really take for granted. The small things like a PB&J that is really nothing big to any of us that can go right to our kitchens and make, but for my brother and the population he's with, it's a privilege to have something so little taste SO GOOD! Another example are the hugs Chad would give me. Chad didn't need a reason to hug anybody, he did it just because he wanted too. I knew in my mind and heart every time he hugged me that it would possibly be the last hug I would get from him. The last squeeeeeeze me so tight hug that I'd feel my back pop. Chad is quite a bit taller than me so I'd have to stand on my toes and hold my head back or else he'd smother me in his chest and I couldn't breathe, LOL. So when I got a hug, I tried to hug him back just as hard knowing that might just be the very last time I'd feel his arms wrapped around me.

Me and Chad, April 2010

I remember the last hug I got from him and I don't know when I will get another one. There is a matrix chart the prison goes by to determine the security level, privileges and type and number of visitations you get. It's done by the alphabet and I believe you have to get to the letter "R" or "S" before you can have contact visits. So sadly, it will be a very long time, if ever, that I get to hug my brother.

So realize that while it's in our daily routines to do what we do and we don't mean to take the little things for granted like a PB&J or a hug from somebody, be happy and grateful FOR those little things and cherish them because you just never know when you won't have them again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Property pick-up & you've got "NO" mail!

I got a call Monday morning from a Deputy at the Davis county jail. He said Chad had listed me as the person to pick his property up and I could do so Monday through Friday from 10 to 3 in the afternoon. I kept meaning to contact the jail and find out how to go about doing this but as I explained before, I'm forgetting a lot of things and this is one of them. Thank goodness Chad took care of it before he was transported.

So today was the day I once again took a ride to the jail. I do a lot of thinking in my car just like I do in my bed. Yes cars are whizzing by, the heater's going and I've got the music up but it's my time to JUST THINK!!! I always try to put music in that Chad and I both loved when I'm alone in my car. Some of it makes me sad because so many of the songs are in relation to an overdose or somebody dying of their drug abuse. Just because you overdose doesn't mean you always die. Chad has overdosed several times. So many of the songs are that of a person who struggles or suffers and just can't find their way in this world just as Chad couldn't. Chad was able to relate to so much of this music as if those lyrics were written just for him.

I feel closer to him through the music and sometimes I will just belt out a lyric of the song because that's what used to make him laugh. Ya, I'm nut, I know. But I also love to do off the wall things like that just to make somebody laugh.
The property pick-up was just across the way from the court, the place I last I saw my brother. As I was walking towards building, I looked over at the court and saw in my mind the media van that was parked right outside those doors with one reporter and the camera man waiting to interview whomever they could the day Chad was sentenced. I saw the memory of my family coming out of those doors broken and dismantled. I thought that would be the last day I would be at this building but turns out maybe today is.

There always seems to be SOMEBODY around when I am doing these types of things. Like picking up property or making a visit or putting money on Chad's books. You always have to announce his name and your relation to him so I always wonder if those people around me remember who he is and what he's done and if so, what are they thinking. Are they afraid of me? Are they judging me? Are they whispering to anybody they are with "hey that's that guys sister that was all over the news. Remember the one who was involved in that homicide?" Homicide probably isn't the word they would use but I can't bring myself to say the "M" or "K" word. I KNOW what Chad did and I am facing it the best I can but those words are entirely to harsh for me to roll off my tongue. No you don't have to be afraid of me, I don't care what you're judgment might be and the answer is "Yes, I AM Chad's sister and yes he did do it."

I sat down waiting for Chad's property to come. My dad called me. He seemed in good spirits and wanted to know if I have received a letter from Chad. Unfortunately I haven't. The last letter I got from Chad was the one he wrote me the night he was sentenced. Dad got one letter from Chad that came from the prison but that's it. It's been a week since dad got that letter and naturally he's beginning to worry as am I.

His letter to dad said he was doing well. The food is a LOT better and he's happy about that. He was transported to the prison Friday, November 19th, 2010, the day after sentencing. I was shocked how fast he was transferred. I thought it would be a day or two, maybe even a week but it wasn't. It was the very next morning. He was transported with Wanda Barzee. Because she is doing federal time for her part in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, she was held at the Davis county jail because it's a federal holding jail. Chad said they had to drop her off at the federal courthouse and the media was EVERYWHERE. From there he was taken to Bluffdale where the prison is. He got there that morning and did not get into his cell until 10:00 that night. He had to go through administration, see a dentist and a doctor so it was an all day process. He said it's not where he wants to be but knows it for the best. UGH!!!! He also said he is thinking of us all and loves us and to make sure everybody knows he's doing fine.

An officer came out with a plastic bag of Chad's stuff. He asked for my I.D. and gave me what was in the bag. All I got were the letters that have been sent to him from all of us while he was in jail. "What about his wallet and his clothes?" Geezus, really Mindy, you're asking for his clothes??? He said Chad wore the clothes he had when he was transported to prison and there wasn't a wallet. He double checked and came back out and said the only things that were inventoried the morning he arrived were the clothes he had on and a set of earrings, no wallet. So I wonder if the Bountiful Police Department, which is where they took Chad for questioning the morning of his arrest, has it and it's in an evidence bag. Another call to make IF I can remember to do it.

On my way home from work I got a call from my sister "M". I wish I could squeeze her street and my street together. Right now, everything that separates our roads from crossing means nothing. I would give anything to have her that close to me right now or vice verse. She is struggling. She sobbed to me and of course my tears began to fall. I wish I could have just held her in my arms and rocked her to betterness. Is that even a word? She's alone with nobody to talk too. Yes she has her children..amazing they are, yes she has her husband and yes she has her mother-in-law, but this situation is so massive in pain and none of them besides the kids have a direct relation to Chad so feeling what she does or what we as a family do is impossible. And while the kids are a blood line of Chad and "M" has been very open with the 2 oldest, it is still difficult for them to comprehend the impact and tragedy this really is for their mom.

I love you sissy!!!!

So I talked to her for a few minutes and tried to calm her down. The only way I knew how to do so was just tell her that Chad doesn't want any of us to STOP living because of him. He wants us to keep going, he wants us to be happy. He wants us to be everything he couldn't be. And the most important thing I could tell her is how much I LOVE HER. She is the only sissy I have and I cannot lose her!!! Somehow, even with 450 miles of separation, she and I have got to get through this just as much as my family that is within a 25 mile radius here has too. I can't say that any of us will be okay. I can't say any of us will return to the way we used to be. The pain we have carried everyday for the last 10 years watching Chad suffer as a drug addict and what it ultimately succumbed him too eats at us and there is just no way to tell if we will recover from it. Yes time may heal our hearts but the sting is always present, at least it is for me.

I got home from work and went to the mailbox. Still no letter from Chad. It's disheartening and worrisome. As much as I would like too it's not like I can pick up the phone and call the prison and ask if he's ok. He's an adult and he's in a correctional facility housing thousands of men. It's not like jail. Maybe he doesn't know he has money on his books yet to order envelopes and paper. There are usually only certain days you can order commissary and maybe it takes a while for them to get what they've ordered. Not to mention the prison reads their mail. I'm not sure if they ready every piece of outgoing mail. I'm sure they do if there is probable cause but if they do have to read it, that's a LOT of mail to read and process so maybe it's just taking longer than we are used too. And maybe Chad simply hasn't written anybody yet. He could be tied up with other things going on out there, getting used to the system, maybe trying to come to terms with his reality. I don't know why none of us have received anything but there isn't anything I can do about it either. I just keep writing him in hopes for a letter one of these days.