This I Believe
On June 21, 2003 at about 2 a.m., I received a call from my then 21 year-old son. He told me that he had been arrested and would be in jail for “a while.” Much to his surprise, I said, “Thank God.” What he didn’t know was that I had been praying for his arrest for about 3 months, since receiving a different phone call from him in March. During that call, he told me that he had “done enough meth to die.” He begged me to help him stop the chaos and pleaded with me to tell him how to get to sleep. I feared he would commit suicide by police, putting himself in a situation where the police would have no choice but to shoot him and take him out of his misery. At 6’ 2” he weighed about 139 lbs. He was no longer allowed in my house due to his violent and unpredictable behavior. After every contact I feared that I would never see him alive again. In the years preceding this incarceration, I had watched everything that I loved about him slowly fade away as his personality became ruled by methamphetamines. After being sent to prison, he sent letters of apology and expressed fear for his future. He indicated that he wished that he could be hypnotized to forget about meth so that he would never be tempted again. He said that he did not trust himself on the streets. He recognized how drugs caused him to compromise all of his values and morals as he watched pregnant women shoot up, stole from family and friends, poisoned people he cared about. He had hurt himself, his family, his friends, and society.
My son was released from the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Rush City on October 30, 2006. He no longer appears a skeleton-like Holocaust survivor. His skin is unmarred by scabs, his lips un-chapped, he no longer wears the mask of death. He is no longer hopeless. Since his arrest and incarceration, I have seen my son’s sanity return. After the first 4-5 months, I saw my son reappear. My son is intelligent, rational, verbally skilled, remorseful, capable, creative, adventurous, funny, and compassionate. My son, who is as much loved and adored as any other son.
When I drive by a car being searched by the police on the side of the road as a young man looks on, I see my son. As I learn of arrests and prison sentencing of a twenty-something, I see my son. When I hear about the thousands of young men being sent to prison, I see my son. As the news describes drop-out rates, joblessness, increasing poverty, gang violence, drug wars, I see my son. When I pass the homeless man on the street, I see my son. What I truly believe is that all these men are my son. What I truly believe is that all these men are our sons.
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