By Indira Grace
It was Wednesday morning.
My alarm beckoned me from dreams I could not remember. I could, however, still feel the emotion from them, and that emotion was anger.
“Great,” my sarcasm ran through my brain like a searing river. “I really want to go into work today pissed off.”
I got up, took my shower, got dressed and fixed my hair, then walked into the kitchen to pack my lunch. I opened the fridge and, holy mother crapper, my food was gone. My husband, who works evenings, had my lunch for his dinner, late last night. How can this man not see four containers of food right in front of him but can find one plastic dish buried under four egg cartons? I checked the time. If I leave now, I can grab something at Walmart.
What should have been a seven-minute trip into grab some food ended up being a 15-minute trip that included excusing myself five times from the chatty checkout woman who wanted to tell me about the woes of working for a large corporation who just didn’t seem to care about her.
Fucking husband. Fucking food. Fucking Walmart. And now I’m listening to The Feminine Mystique, as it is read by Parker Posey on audio in my car. Fucking men.
I manage to make it to work on time and park outside the big wall. I make my way into the reception area and do a quick sweep of my person and my bag—no phone, no extra money in my wallet; I take my watch off and slide it in my bag and step through the metal detector. No beep. Whew. One less worry.
I meander down the two hallways that lead to the other side of the wall—the wall adorned with razor wire and towers with armed guards—my work. My life’s passion. Maximum security prison.
Stepping out of the sally port into the dark morning, it is misty and foggy; and reminds me of film noir, kind of black and white and especially dramatic. I half expected to see Bogey step out from behind a corner, light a cigarette and give me a sideways look. But there was no Bogey. In fact, there was no one.
My co-worker isn’t with me. There are no officers to be seen, no support staff walking to their offices. No inmates heading to get supplies. No one is on the yard—just me and two prison cats. “This can’t be, “I thought to myself. “Where is everyone?” I check my watch. It’s 6:50am and yard should be starting. Chow should be ending. The nurse should be walking to the front with meds for the guys releasing today. Street crews should be cleaning. The SWAT team members should be coming out of their office and people should be moving around.
But they aren’t; it is just me. 1300 inmates and 300 staff and no one is out but me.
As I near my next destination, the tower where I grab my keys, I see a cell house door open and a single inmate steps out. I look him in the eye and I know him instantly. My mind flashes back to that time when I saw his picture on the news every single night, for almost a month; that horrible month some two years ago, when I found out that he had killed this man, this man that meant so much to me.
This death, the death this inmate in front of me was responsible for, had jarred me so deeply that I lost all concept of reality. It took me months of continuous therapy to get to a place where I could actually deal with his death with some rationality. And then his case came up again, in the news, just a few months ago, when the DA took a plea that those who knew the victim did not approve of. That meant that he would be sentenced soon. And the likelihood of my running into him grew exponentially.
So here I am now, as predicted, face-to-face with the guy who shot my beloved to death.
My eyes could not leave his. As he neared me in the foggy mist, I wanted to hate him.“I should hate him,” my mind screamed. I should want to walk over and beat the shit out of him. I should want to scream at him and tell him how much he hurt so many people—me included.
But I can’t. I don’t, and I won’t.
Because, as I breathe into my heart rather than sitting in my head, I don’t see the man who killed the father of my only child. I don’t see the murderer of a man I loved. I just don’t. I see a kid-a young kid with a twisted heart and wounded soul—a kid wronged by society. A kid, who, when facing a dilemma in his life, chose to shoot a police captain, my police captain, in the head, killing him; leaving his children without a dad, a lover without her love, and me without someone who had been so very important to me once.
But knowing my dear one as I did, he wouldn’t want me to be someone I wasn’t just to attempt to vindicate him. Because vindication is impossible and love is so much easier.
I kept walking and slowly lost eye contact with him as he passed behind me, the two of us moving in opposite directions and, yet, existing in the same community. I forgave him in that moment because it is easier for me to forgive and love than to hold on and hate.
My anger was strong, but now it was visiting with my sadness. Quietly, I moved toward my building, my keys in-hand, among the bustle of inmates and officers going to their morning appointments, classes and duties; life moving forward, as it always does after a great loss.
I expressed gratitude for that moment, where I could practice all that I have been taught and to feel the extreme feelings that goes with the human experience. I expressed gratitude for my loved one, who gave me the greatest lesson of love—forgiveness.
Indira Grace has worked as a spiritual advisor and educator, Reiki healer, Master and teacher, massage therapist, yoga instructor, and GED instructor in a maximum security prison for more than 15 years. She has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education and her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She has been a practicing Buddhist for about 20 years, often incorporating various aspects of the practice into her education programs. She joyfully lives with her 2 dogs.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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