My first born, Hunter. This picture was taken in 2009, when he was 11 or 12 (I haven’t had enough coffee to do the math right now). I don’t have too many pictures of him. He doesn’t frequent my Facebook posts. Most people don’t know that I have a 20 year old son. Not because I’m hiding him, but because I’m not going to update my Facebook status with “Going to Pleasant Valley State Prison to see the boy today!” “Got a call from prison today!” Don’t get me wrong, those who need to know, know about my son’s story but I share it cautiously. When people ask about my kids- “Oh, what school do they go to? What sports do they play?” My normal response is usually- “Well, Arvy is excelling at football. Nicky hasn’t decided between a doctor or engineer. And Hunter, he’s on his own path right now.” How can I drop the bomb on them with “My son’s in prison.” It’s like “Oh, I have cancer.” Like I’m responsible for how they will take it. Because I don’t want to shock them or make them feel bad about asking. However, lately, I just say it. “My son is in prison.” More times than not, I get to hear about one their kid that has been down the same road, a cousin, a nephew or parent. Amazing what happens when you share your story. Usually, you’ll find when you do that, the response is “Me Too.”
Hunter has been in prison for just over a year. We were expecting him to get out either early next year or even in the summer. But it’s official. He’s coming home the day after Christmas. I’m excited and nervous. I miss my kid. I’m eager for him to have a new chance at life. But each time he comes home, it’s like bringing a new-born home. I don’t have clothes for him. Each time he either takes off or gets arrested, he loses everything. So we start from scratch. Will he last longer than a week out of incarceration, like last time? Will my shit get stolen….again? Will I be able to trust him? Will he get a job? Will he stick around and help me? Will this time finally be the time that he’s grown up enough to have gotten past the bullshit? Will the fact that I moved to a nice neighborhood and out of the drug infested area in which we used to live, make a difference? Will my “fancy” neighbors see him walking around the neighborhood and call security (because we live in THAT kind of neighborhood, with security, we’re legit!) saying that some thug is casing their houses? Will the parole agents come to my house and cause the neighbors to talk shit? Will I be able to afford to feed another person? Will my doors actually stay on the hinges? Will that walls stay fist-sized hole free?
So many unknowns. Sadly, my life is relatively calm when he’s jail. I’m not worrying about if he’s strung out somewhere, if he’s going to rob me, again, or if I’m going to get the call that I have to identify a body. Because that shit happens.
So, I start praying. That things will go right. That I will be able to handle this, again. That he will succeed. That we will all get along in the house. That the boys relationship finally be one of love and not hate, because the younger ones have watched Hunter destroy everything in his wake for the last 7+ years.
That I will finally be able to breathe again.