Leonard Trujillo is incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Connecticut. Although he is not currently participating in a Prison Fellowship® program, he submitted this firsthand account to Prison Fellowship of what life is like behind bars when you are separated from your loved ones.
T.S. Elliott once said, "Love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to exist." This statement takes on a new life, a new meaning, when the parameters for how and where one can experience love from your loved ones are limited to 15-minute phone calls and one-hour bi-weekly visits.
Before coming to prison, the meaning of true love, what love is at its very core, evaded me. I was selfish. And someone who is selfish cannot or will not share their hearts completely. Love, as I knew it, was merely a comfort I felt around people with whom I shared a common history.
TIME STOOD STILL
For the first three years of my incarceration, I was an unsentenced prisoner. Because of my unsentenced status, my visits were non-contact and through a glass window.
When I was finally sentenced, I received my very first contact visit. For the first time in over three years, I was able to hug my mother. In that very instant, it was as if time stood still.
There aren't enough words in the entire English lexicon to describe what I felt in that moment. It was as if every loving feeling, every loving memory I ever felt for my mother, hit me all at once. As we embraced, I could smell her mixture of VO5 shampoo and Avon perfume. I could savor every delicious dish my mother ever prepared and, most of all, I felt my mother wordlessly conveying to me, for her very soul, this soothing feeling that said to me, "Everything is going to be OK, son."
As she let go of me, my mother looked into my eyes and said, "Al fin mijo, te puedo dar un abrazo," which means, "At last, my son, I can give you a hug." It was as if she were saying, "I've been waiting for this moment as long as you have." Although this brief exchange took only a few seconds, T.S. Elliott's words could not have been truer. My here and now ceased to exist in my mother's warm embrace. True love was revealed to me, that day, at that visit.
Love is not merely a comforting feeling or a familiarity with people you like. To love is to share your soul with another being, to place your heart in the hands of another person. It is to empathize and to truly care for others. Love is expressing your love now because the opportunity may not be available tomorrow.
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