Shohn, 49

Shohn, 49

Meet Shohn…

Love is sacrifice, putting others’ needs before your own without expectation. Love is patience, enduring the storms that darken our horizons to see the dawning of a brand new day. Love is warmth, that glowing ember of light that radiates within the deepest reaches of the heart at the very thought of the other person. And love is everlasting, seeing the entirety of your future in the eyes of another and not being able to envision that future without them.

Incarcerated: 14 years

Housed: Jefferson City Correctional Center, Missouri

Sometimes I dream that I am with someone who loves me, a woman who, in all reality, I have never even laid eyes on before, yet somehow we are familiar to one another just the same. Though when I wake, I can never recall what was said between us, and very rarely is there ever any physical intimacy, I always awaken with the unmistakable contentment of heart that I have just been in the presence of love. I don’t have these dreams often, but whenever I do, the bitter truth that I face is almost too much to bear. They’re so impossibly real that once I awaken to the pain and disappointment that they are not, my heart fills with grief and longing for the love I have just lost. But knowing what I know now, I suppose it is wrong of me to consider TIME an annoying apparition that will not let me be, because in all these years, TIME has revealed to me one undeniable thing- the essence of love’s true meaning. Love is sacrifice, putting others’ needs before your own without expectation. Love is patience, enduring the storms that darken our horizons to see the dawning of a brand new day. Love is warmth, that glowing ember of light that radiates within the deepest reaches of the heart at the very thought of the other person. And love is everlasting, seeing the entirety of your future in the eyes of another and not being able to envision that future without them. Before my newfound awareness of love, I assumed that the only conditions in which good intention would rise up and take a stand in a fight to take back what rightfully belonged to it were the eagerness for redemption and the desperation to right its wrongs. But now I know that the complete absence of love itself has that very same power to summon the will to fight, and fight I will when love once again comes calling my name. I’ve been incarcerated for over 14 years now, convicted of crimes that I did not commit, and with all that I have lost because of that, I have known no greater pain than the pain of being forced to live within the confines of this loveless existence. “If only I could go back in time knowing what I know now,” I often think to myself. But then the utter impossibility of such a thing becomes its very own kind of torment. A man has quite a bit of time to think in here, way too much if you ask me, and though Time has never exactly been a friend to me, it has proved itself lately to be more of a haunting nuisance than anything else, a “Ghost of Christmas Past” taking me places that I need not go, showing me things that I need not see. Regret, shame, sadness and heartache- these are the poisonous fruits that my willful ignorance of love’s inherent value bears, and I eat of this fruit every single day of my loveless existence.