By Coco Shellim
An apology to David.
This will be a more somber scab than my usual. To be honest, up until recently I have been a bit cynical about personal reflection and in particular, uneasy about sharing private reflections.
We first learnt about the importance of reflection in our first few days at SCA. It was one of the four parts which makes up learning. Reflection was something that was missing from all my previous education, apart from cramming for exams- but that doesn’t really count. The reflection we do SCA isn’t just about what you’ve learnt it’s about stopping and really thinking about it, whether you agree with it and what it means to you– it’s not about remembering facts or figures.
I’ve spent the day reflecting about David. This was brought on by my half arsed attempt at cleaning my room. I was deep in my drawers filled with crap that I can’t bring myself to throw away and came across a folder filled with my letters from David.
David is an inmate on death row in Florida. We started our pen pal relationship about 5 years ago through a charity called human writes. I’ve always had a morbid fascination with the concept of prison and that you can have your freedom taken away – probably because it’s my worst fear. What bothers me the most about the death penalty is often inmates are kept sometimes up to 20/30 years on death row. It’s not unusual for them to only have 1 hour a day outside their solitary cells, a life which is inconceivably lonely.
David was found guilty of murdering a young girl he met up with from craigslist. Over a the years we had silly and serious conversations, he’s been on death row for 7 years now and he’s only two years older than me. The postal service in prison is slow and it usually took at least 2/3 weeks for each letter to arrive. Each letter would arrive opened and sealed back together with tape, and vice versa. There were of course very strict rules of what was allowed to be sent and what would be removed as contraband.
I’ve been rereading the old letters and notice that he never seems bitter or angry in them, always kind and respectful, sometimes frustrated. He never dwelled on his wasted years or his eventual death penalty. I suppose he’s had more time than most to reflect. There was one line he wrote which was achingly sad “I can remember when I was a kid I so badly wanted to grow up and now that I am I wanna be a kid again.”
I feel very guilty at having stopped this correspondence for no reason other than my own self involvement. Life got in the way and regular letters became irregular and then I eventually stopped. The worst part being, I know it was the same story with his friends and family. Out of sight out of mind, is a sad truth people face when they are locked up for so long and I hate to admit it but I forgot about him for a while until finding those letters. Once I finish this SCAB I will write him an apology.
There is good news though, after a quick google search a news article from last year says he is going for a re-trial, got my fingers crossed.
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