Niiko, 34

Niiko, 34

Meet Niiko..

“God may not be there when you want him to be, but he’s always on time.”

Niiko, 34

Incarcerated: 17 years

Housed: Corcoran state prison, California

I’ve woken up for 17 years with the same hope and thoughts because my faith is the one thing that gives me hope. She always says, God is never there when you want him to be, but he’s always on time. I always told her if God cared about me, I would never have been sent to hell. We fought about this a lot, and then one day, her words rang true. She said, God let me stay here in hell because there was someone I needed to reach, that he would use me as his tool to give them his message. I thought it was BS. Then a friend of mine lost his family and mother within two days. He had been down for 10 years and the loss was so great he wanted out of this life. I had started to feel the same way but because of my mom’s faith, I knew it was wrong to end your life. I was too weak to do it myself. I started wondering how else to get this loneliness and pain to stop, so when I saw him giving things away and not getting high anymore, I just had a feeling. He sat down at the table I was sitting at, we didn’t talk at all. Then he said I could have his radio and seeing how this came from left field, I told him I wasn’t right in the head. How I had just lost my big brother and cousin and I felt like it was my fault because I wasn’t there to protect them. Then he opened up about his family and his mom and how he was planning to be with them again soon. I don’t know why seeing him so crushed made me change my mind. I grabbed his hand and we prayed for both of our losses and loneliness. I’ve since seen my mom’s words and faith play out. God may not be there when you want him to be, but he’s always on time.

Scott, 43

Meet Scott…

“I am a soldier in God’s Army and a strong prayer warrior.” 

Scott, 43

Incarcerated: 7 years

Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, California

My family are very strong supporters of St. Jude Research. I lost three family members to cancer and believe that no one should lose anybody to cancer. I am a soldier in God’s Army and a strong prayer warrior. My family has a strong history of serving in the military and one of my favorite memories is when my dad shared our family’s story with St. Jude Radio. This is what he shared, “On May 17, 1974 my son was born and I left for my tour to West Pac in July. When we reached Pearl Harbor I received a message that my son had cancer. He lived to be nine months and 18 days old. The day of his death he looked up at me, then his grandma, then his mom, then up to the ceiling, then back at his mom, waved bye-bye, then back up to the ceiling to say- I’m ready to die. In October of 1989, my wife was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and in June of 1992 she died. At her service I sang the song, “Remind Me Dear Lord.”

My mom was a loving, caring woman and she spent the last six months of her life helping my elementary school with anything they needed.  

Wyatt, 23

Meet Wyatt…

I’ve battled with addiction and losing the most cherished person to me: my mother. What helps me get through this time is never forgetting the love and memory of my mother.

Wyatt, 23
Incarcerated: 5 years
Housed: East Arkansas Regional Unit, Marianna, Arkansas

I’ve battled with addiction and losing the most cherished person to me: my mother. What helps me get through this time is never forgetting the love and memory of my mother. One day, it led me to wake up and tell myself that I’m through living like this. I want somthing better. I quit getting high cold turkey and continue to push myself further each day. I work out constantly, all in the efforts of making my mother proud, even if she isn’t physically with me. I have almost gotten my GED, (one test away) and will finally have completed a hard-earned goal.

I still plan to achieve more each and every day, not only to become a better man, but to show my mom looking down on me, she didn’t fail in raising me. So, I don’t only write to Humans of San Quentin or to my mother; I’m sharing to anyone who’s looking for that small light at the end of the tunnel.

Greg, 49

Greg, 49

Meet Greg…

After the first bite, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I’m sitting at the table in a crowded chow hall with tears running down my face.

Greg, 49
Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

I was really young when I moved to California and we lived right around the corner from her. Her home was my favorite place to be. The sun seemed to always shine on her house. She only had one daughter, so I was the son she never had. She truly adored me. I loved being in her house; there was an energy of love that wasn’t in my house. I remember helping her make sweet potato pies; my job was cutting up the sweet potatoes. It became one of my favorite things to do– help her make sweet potato pies. I remember when I was around seven and I was mad at my mother. I packed my bag,  ran away from home, and told my mother that I’d rather live with my auntie. She was a loving, beautiful, caring person. Her name was Ethel B, but we called her Aunt B. Even after I came to prison, we stayed in touch. She came to visit me a couple of times. But her health got worse and she couldn’t travel.

When she passed away recently, I was heartbroken after getting the news. I had a really hard time dealing with it; she was someone with whom I only had good memories. Also, there are no processes or opportunities for someone to grieve in prison. It’s hard. A few days after her passing, I went to dinner, and they were serving the prison’s favorite meal, chicken-on-the-bone. I grabbed my tray and noticed something strange on the tray. It looked like a sweet potato. I grabbed it and took a bite. It was in fact a sweet potato! After the first bite, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I’m sitting at the table in a crowded chow hall with tears running down my face. It reminded me of Aunt B. I closed my eyes and tasting the sweet potato took away all the pain. The taste brought back beautiful memories of her and her love for me, which got me through the grieving. It was the first time in 29 years that I saw a sweet potato being served in prison. I took it as a sign that Aunt B saw that I was struggling, and she sent me a message. ‘I got you, nephew.’ Instantly, I got better. I love you sweet potato pie! Rest in Paradise.

Demetrius, 56

Demetrius, 56

Meet Demetrius…

I’m no saint nor an angel. I want to be around genuine, caring, optimist people. I am just trying to be the best me.

Demetrius, 56
Incarcerated: 31 years
Housed: San Quentin Death Row

I’ve been on death row since 1992. I am currently dealing with the loss of my mom. She died on Valentine’s Day and now my grandmother, she died last week. Life is constantly giving me challenge after challenge, more hurt, more pain, more sorrow. I’m just doing my best to keep hopeful, and not give up on people.

I keep it real just knowing there are caring people out there. I’m no saint nor an angel. I want to be around genuine, caring, optimist people. I am just trying to be the best me. Despite all of life’s ups and downs, I am trying to not drown in pain and loneliness, but to swim in peace, happiness, joy and a positive state of mind spirit. Nothing is promised but physical death, so live and build bridges of friendship and humaneness. 

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