Michael, 33

Michael, 33

Meet Michael..

I am forever grateful for finding the strength to shift my perspective by finding opportunities in unfortunate situations and turn that pain into the desire to be successful.”

Michael, 33

Incarcerated: 8 years

Housed: California State Prison – Solano, Vacaville

Being away from family, familiar faces, physical touch, and outside communication have not happened intentionally. Despite growing up behind these electric and barbed wire fences, being in prison has forced me to become a respectable man, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I have a ten-year-old son I love beyond his physical appearance. I have enrolled in parenting classes to sharpen the tools I will need for this beautiful creature I created. Throughout these eight years, I have lost ten family members to overdoses, heart conditions, and a suicide. How do I cope with continuous tragedy locked in a concrete box with no visits because my family is too far away? I have had not one visit since my incarceration. When is there time for healing? Shutting down felt like the only logical thing to do, I cut off everyone I knew. The people I grew up with, females included. I felt like everything, and everyone was a distraction to me. I closed that door to companionship while focusing on self-development, proper etiquette, and financial freedom, which is imperative for my future success. I took the initiative of getting forklift certified while incarcerated. I still and currently enjoy the Solano Community College Rush Scholars program, majoring in business and technology, I graduated from Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute and was accepted into a chef program upon release. Being alone has its rewards. I am forever grateful for finding the strength to shift my perspective by finding opportunities in unfortunate situations and turning  pain into the desire to be successful. Now, that door to all beautiful things has opened for me once again, and this time, I am ready to walk through it with grace and confidence.

 

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.

 

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