Farewells

“You saved my life.” I had never heard those words said to me before. They were spoken simply and profoundly at the same time, heavy and light, complete and so wildly inadequate.

Ten days ago, another man told me “I’m going to be shipped out this week. And …oh, I’m going to make this quick, else, I’m going to cry… Thank you. Thank you for everything. You changed my life.” With that, he wiped a tear away from behind his sunglasses and turned around to leave, unable to stand without bursting in the surfacing emotions.

Yet another, who left Donovan two weeks ago, said “I never knew I could be the person I am today. Thank you for giving me a chance to discover this brilliance in me.”

Departures are tough in prison. Yes, yes, we celebrate the fact that these men are being sent to lower-security prisons where life will be more easeful and aligned with their peaceful lifestyles. And yet, departures are also difficult and made more difficult by the fact that, when people ship out, we – volunteers – can no longer be in contact with them. It’s “until we meet again.” We cannot know what happens in their child custody hearing or the clemency request or simply their new life in a lower-security prison.

So, in these simple words, so little is said and so much is expressed. We’ve shared live-changing moments, have witnessed each other’s growth, been there to nudge and counsel each other along this journey of life. And no words can adequately capture the gifts, insights, beauty, growth, gratitude and transformation. So it’s kept simple: thank you. Knowing that everything is contained in this expression of gratitude. Simple and profound. Heavy and light. Complete and so wildly inadequate.

Thank you gentlemen for the myriad ways you’ve changed my life.

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