Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Are Not Alone -or- Let Me Entertain You

When times are hard, there is something comforting about having a loving soul just willing to be present, to walk beside you as things unfold. 

I have learned from working with wounded soldiers, families in crisis and now hunger striking prisoners that often I can’t change the reality of their situations, but I can taking their minds away from the pain. I can make things a little better, just for the moment.

Sometimes I entertain, just by tell stories of my life, my kids, my pets and the like.   I actively take the lead in providing something else to think about other than the situation.  Usually things start this way with shy people.  Bryan let me do a lot of talking in the beginning, he had so many questions.

Another way to help suffering people is to distract by getting them to tell me stories about their lives.  For instance, I asked Bryan what he used to do on the 4th of July when he was a kid.  He launched off into a wonderful story of the huge family celebrations in Texas, complete with homemade ice cream and the kid’s fishing contest.  All I had to do is listen, smile and prompt with a question every once in a while.  The most wonderful thing about this is that for the duration of the story, his mind was back there, once again that happy 10 year old, frantically trying to catch the most perch.

As a continuation of my last post, here are the pictures that I took to visit to share with Bryan.  I am also able to send them in by mail. He feels guilty that I am here, investing all this time and effort for him, but I explain that it is my calling to be where I can make a difference, even if that difference is only to one person…. And Bryan is my one person at this moment in time.  

Through these pictures, I wanted to give him a glimpse of my reality here in Crescent City so he would know that I not at all put out.  This is not my first road trip/camping adventure in support of a worthy cause!

Here are the pictures I shared with Bryan on Monday and the approximate commentary:

My tent is about 24’x16’ plus a screened vestibule, larger than TWO cells in the SHU.  

My cot and teddy bear.

Tiffany, the Birthday Hamster.  She is my dwarf hamster, who is along for support.  I call her the “Birthday Hamster” because as a nanny, I would bring her to the house for the kids to play with, but only on the occasion of a birthday.  They love her!  So do I!


Here I am at Pebble Beach, just outside of Crescent City, CA

 A view from Pebble Beach Road, Crescent City, CA

This is my Cellie, as in cell mate.

Here is the fun part of this blog.  This is my teddy bear….Who needs a name.  I asked Bryan if he would come up with a name for my bear…perhaps talk through the steel door to his friends (they can do that with difficulty) and take suggestions.  He looked amazed and shocked -  like any typical man asked to engage is some sort of female silliness - and said he could never do that!  I have it on good authority from some of the other wives visiting their husbands that their men would almost certainly submit names.  So we’ll see.

Getting men to name a cellie is easier than getting them to name a teddy bear, so the contest is called, “Name Julie’s Cellie".  

It is this sort of “out of the box” activity that distracts and entertains my incarcerated friends, they always seem amused…which is good because they are usually laughing with me and not at me…either way, while they are laughing, they are free.

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