Mother, Minister

posted in: Ripple Effect | 0

You have to learn to forgive yourself.

My son did fifteen years of federal time and ten years’ probation—for drugs. I was a single mom, struggling to get by. My son sat in jail waiting for trial, his friends—all white and wealthier—posted bail and got better deals.

You have to get over your guilt.

Have you been to a sentencing before? They don’t give the time in years, they give it in months. 180, 220, 300. Try dividing those by 12 when your baby is standing in front of you in an orange jumpsuit with his wrists chained to his ankles and the attorneys are telling you to shush. Mathematics is the last thing on your mind.

We spent the next decade and a half going to California, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania – anywhere the federal government shipped him. Every scrap of savings, every day of vacation time was spent in the air or on the road, going to lay eyes on my child.

I do prison ministry now, and you know what I tell the guys? When we, your mothers, were carrying you, when we delivered you, we never thought of our babies as prisoners.

We have to get over our guilt. That’s what I tell the mothers and that’s what I remind myself.