Brian, 55

Brian, 55

Meet Brian..

“She was super-charged with neurotic twirling and jumping at the prospect of rejoining the humans or “tall dogs” with which she shared a mutual adoration.”

Brian, 55

Incarcerated: 31 years

Housed: CA State Prison – Solano, Vacaville

Even today, more than 25 years after her passing, I sometimes wonder if Princess thought that my mom and dad, my two sisters, and my brother and I were a pack of two-legged dogs? Did she believe she was the one special furry human on all fours that all of the less special humans catered to? This black miniature French poodle with a single white diamond-shaped patch on her chest was spoiled and loved. Princess was 16 when she died, and she might have lived longer if my dad hadn’t accidentally broken her hip pulling into the driveway, not seeing the overly excited small dog running around eager to greet him. She was super-charged with neurotic twirling and jumping at the prospect of rejoining the humans or “tall dogs” with which she shared a mutual adoration. There wasn’t much that Princess wasn’t invited to: our beds, the couch, scraps underneath the table, and even family outings usually reserved for human beings. One night, Princess and I were home alone and the darkness felt a bit thicker than usual. Having been admonished multiple times by my parents about wasting electricity I wasn’t paying for, I turned off every light and plugged in a nightlight. Princess’ dimly glowing eyes met mine in anticipation and supplication “Jump!” I offered her. She leaped first to the soft crescent shaped chair then on to my bed and immediately laid down, awaiting my sure affection. Either Princess didn’t know I was a smidgen concerned about being in the pitch-back house. I also didn’t tell her I’d allowed her on my bed should something happen.Then, something happened, we both saw it at the same time. There had always been stories of an apparition or two visiting our home. This time it was a little girl in a long white gown heading down the hall into my parent’s room. Princess jumped to attention, “Go get it!” I said. She dove from the bed, charging into the room barking ferociously. I turned on every light then searched my parents’ room. That type of fearlessness deserved a snack and several minutes of cuddling and scratches under her chin. I still love Princess, even in her absence.

 

Logan, 35

Meet Logan…

My last relationship blessed me with a boy and girl. Through the years Mariah is the one person who stuck with me.

Logan, 35
Incarcerated: 4 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

My dad spent time with me on weekends and whenever he could. But I was always closer to my mom. I was a mama’s boy. My oldest daughter Mariah has always been close to my parents. For years I was a single father and my parents helped raise her. She has a good relationship with her stepmother. My father has really gone out of his way to be the father I can’t be while incarcerated. My mother passed away, so my dad is a single father. Being a retired heavy equipment operator he would normally be enjoying his retirement. I feel he has sacrificed his retirement. He has never complained and I know he loves his granddaughter very much. Still, I know it must be challenging even though she’s a good kid. At 16, she is going through a time that can affect the rest of her life. Dad takes her to appointments, buys her things, and everything that comes with supporting a teenager. Not because he feels like he has to, but because he loves her. I’m thankful for the person he is. I look up to him and wish I was half the father he is.

I am also proud of my daughter. She has become a product of her struggles. I admire the way she has dealt so well with the obstacles in her life. She was by my side from the day she was born to the day of my incarceration. She is my “Road Dawg” as some might say. I left her mother when Mariah was two. My last relationship blessed me with a boy and girl. Through the years Mariah is the one person who stuck with me. She was with me at work when she wasn’t with my parents or at school. I learned it takes a village to raise a child. We lived in a very small community. My employer, who was like a second mother to me, people from work, and friends helped me support her by giving her clothes, gifts, and they remembered her birthday. Looking back I admire her ability to make the best with what we had. She never complained or gave me a hard time. If she cried, was upset, or sad I knew it was serious. I always received compliments on how well behaved she was. Being a single father was tiring, but she made it easy. I still carry those precious memories to this day. I am amazed and proud of the young lady she has become. 

Jose, 36

Jose, 36

Meet Jose…

Since the beginning of my existence, I was cloaked in darkness, confined to small spaces. As cramped as I was, comfort and peace was gained by familiarity to my surroundings.

Jose, 36
Incarcerated: 5 years
Housed: Susanville, California

Since the beginning of my existence, I was cloaked in darkness, confined to small spaces. As cramped as I was, comfort and peace was gained by familiarity to my surroundings. Like a seedling buried deep within earth, I too burst forth clawing for survival into a world unknown. My comfort & peace seemed to fade away. As I grew up, I pushed past resistance, elbowed my way through uncertainties in order to stand firm in a space I call my own. Becoming attached to things, to people, only to have them ripped away from my clutches caused a pain to stay. Disappointment, shame, sorrow was masked layer upon layer with rage, hate, and a heart that’s hollow. Resulting in my inner light to fade away. I sought friends from the free world whom might help me escape a dream twirl. Little did I know about the path laid down before me would illuminate the love that stood upon it. A love so majestic that it would revive my inner light which I believed to be non-existent. I held her picture in my hands and couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

I read and reread her letter until I felt my soul awakened. I couldn’t wait any longer. I made my fateful call to her. Like a bolt of lightning ZAP! Her voice struck a chord within my soul and I heard a melody so sweet, I dare call it divine. All I wanted, all I needed, all I had hoped and prayed for I found in her. A woman who looked at my tears of pain, fear, shame, anger, rage, and wiped them away. She listens, she knows, she feels all that I’ve fought, all that I’ve faced, sees in me a man of greatness, a man of perpetual elevation. My inner light was diminished because I had lost my vision. She clears away the fog, she finetunes my perspective, she stands next to me, forever, because she’s here to stay

 

(We were married March 18, 2023).

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.