Here’s a little personal reflection, consternation, gratitude, with a little nod at prison reform thrown in the mix. Its a little heavy, but it is Suicide Prevention Month. Let’s explore the need for second chances.
“Magnum”, my husband came home a little disturbed. Normal for most husbands, I know and even more common for a thinker like mine. He was concerned about speculation in the media for potential prison reform based on studies that support mental growth being at its completion around twenty-five years of age.
“At that age, that late stage. Shouldn’t they deserve what’s coming to them? They are not mentally impaired.”
But I remember my twenties and I think most of it was in state of impairment. I was socially and emotionally impaired due to my sheltered and dysfunctional upbringing. I said and did things that I am truly grateful to have moved beyond and grown from. Thankfully they were only major mistakes in my little self-conscious world and never required handcuffs or incarceration, but I knew of cases that were tragically severe. Childhoods marked with unimaginable darkness and my heart aches for those lost children.
“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”
~ Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All ~
Other than in more severe psychotic cases, I believe it is worth the consideration. I believe our future lies in our children. Children are delicate hearts and parents have so much power to do so much harm. My babies have taught me that making them happy is the simplest, easiest thing. They were born to laugh, smile and bring happiness to the world. It is such a tragedy when that innocent light is diminished and extinguished altogether.
I believe they deserve the chance and our support to recover.
But in my heart, I was afraid. How do they recover?
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
~ Frederick Douglass ~
Then a friend opened up to me a few days afterward, that solidified my stance even more. I knew her in passing for a couple of years, but in recent months I made an effort to get to really know.
“This is a sad story. . . ” is how she began.
I did not realize how sad. She still had that half-smile on, always optimistic, always engaging. I sat back ready with my own encouraging smile, ready to listen, but not ready for how I am still listening days later. Listening and wondering if I reacted enough, heard enough, said enough. It was all so sad.
I am not here to break confidences, so there will be no details to the story that was shared with me. You need to know that her path was heavy with heartbreak and frustrations, but she was not really sharing her story. It was another’s that she felt was so sad. A person whose childhood and current circumstance relates to the issue of tragic cases for young adults. This individual experienced more loss at a very young age than most people in a lifetime. Losing a mother through a long enduring sickness is already beyond belief, but then to suffer at the hands of a domineering and selfish father is truly heartbreaking. My friend was a helpless witness to this tragedy and her heart is so heavy. What can she do? What could she have done? Why did this have to happen?
In my mind there were scenes of vigilante justice. Wild, wild west showdowns and blood on my hands. I make it sound rather insane, but the world she was depicting, what she had to live through, was too frustrating, too horrible for me to even come close to understanding.
So very sad.
That three-letter word that I could search the thesaurus for something longer and more sophisticated, but that was her word and it resonates with me. It is a word that is so contrary to any impression my friend ever made on me. Rather she is the opposite: bright, pleasant, positive, eager, appreciative, helpful, easy-going, and kind. Always. Without fail, so we’ll add one more: reliable.
And yet she reveals so much sadness in her past. So many burdens, darkness that I cannot even imagine experiencing, never mind recovering in such glowing form.
I understand now why she is such a generous person. Why she doesn’t cry so easily. I mentioned it as a tactic to sway her children, but she said it would be such an anomaly that they would be dubious. There were real moments for real tears. I shared a few dark moments with her too that day. The shadows of our past keeps us grateful for these lovely predictable moments of our present, with our friends, family, our children.
So there’s my answer to “How do they recover?”
It was there all along. In me and in her story, I saw the strength we had to persevere. We were dealt a few hard blows, hers more so than mine and were able to surface. In nature there is a life force, an innate need to overcome, to survive, to take on this gift of life and run with it. Life can be so very hard. We know, but our smiles are at the ready for our tomorrows.
There is always hope and especially for those young adults, whose childhoods were clouded in so much misery and strife. I believe in second chances.
Somewhere inside there is a trapped lost memory of a desire to be loved, to be happy, to feel good, and bring joy to the world. It is a complicated issue with all the hows, whats, and monies to consider, but again our children are our future.
“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~
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