The first letter finally arrived – the return address scrawled on the envelope indicated it was from my son, and it was from prison.
It took courage to open the letter and it took love to be able to read it. His handwriting was far messier and almost ‘lop-sided’ compared to his usual neat cursive. His scrambled sentences almost an indication of perhaps his mental disposition. And there was a thread of anger, confusion and disorientation to his conversation – threads of drug withdrawal no doubt interfering with his thoughts and words.
The letter was absent of specific detail (is that because he is writing from an ‘information sensitive’ environment?) or because he wishes to spare his mother of more grief and pain.
And of course there were the “I love you more than anyone in the world mum” and the “don’t worry about me mum” words. Tears flow freely as I read these words. While I am grateful to receive his letter, I struggle to sort emotions of failure, shame and sorrow into an ordered reality.
I have limped my way through four weeks of ‘prison silence’ – my life feels muted and almost surreal. On two occasions I have phoned the correctional centre (knowing fully that I would not receive any concrete information about my son) – but just wanting somebody at the centre to realise that my son was deeply loved by his mother.
I understand and support our justice system – and thank God everyday for the safe and enriched country in which I live. However my heart and soul now shares the daily grief and anxiety with many other mothers whose children are also in prison.
Vocabulary that I only read about is now a part of my language: adjournment, remand, committal hearings, sentencing and of course ‘time’.
So just like I waited patiently for his birth, I now must wait patiently for his court outcome.
And then life will recommence with a myriad of new rules, boundaries and hopefully recovery. Will I be equipped with the emotional tools for this phase.
Maybe my life as a grieving and healing mother is just beginning.