Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A tale and a hurricane

The last seventeen days have been heavy. That's the number of days I spent without knowing anything about my husband. Add one more and that's how long it has been since Hurricane Maria hit my birthplace, Puerto Rico. The sadness in my heart has been unbearable. Not knowing whether my family members were alright; having no way of communicating with my aunts, uncles, cousins on the island was unnerving. Then, not being able to share my feelings with my best friend and worrying about him as well... that was heavy! I had a headache that lasted precisely seventeen days. Today, I'm happy to report, I am headache free!

My family has reported (little by little) and everyone is fine. Material items can be replaced, but more importantly, everybody is safe. Puerto Rico was battered by the hurricane. To this day, most of the island remains in the dark and many people have no running water. The conditions are scary. We, on the mainland, see the slow progress from afar. Facebook has become the window into our loved ones' lives. We see the devastation and can only pray that the money and provisions sent are making their way to those who need it. The few who have a stolen moment online are gifting us with an image of our beloved Puerto Rico. We will rise again! That is the message for each new day.

So, I set out to finally see my other half. Even though I had everything I needed for myself and for the little ones, I couldn't help but to feel some apprehension instead of happiness or excitement, as if for some reason we may not get to see him. Years of expecting the unexpected have really done a number on me! We made the journey up north and I got to witness, with my own two eyes, that my husband is in good spirits, looks healthy and is O.K. He had a tale to tell me just as I had suspected.

As he walked over to our table, I looked him over. Is he limping? Are there any bruises on him? What will he say? Then he smiled our way and all of my anxiety disappeared. He sat down after greeting us and the kids flooded him with questions and stories. I had to wait my turn. When I finally got the chance to ask him, "what happened, why did you lose privileges for 15 days?" He answered, "awwww, man... some b.s. at work..." and so began the tale of his latest ticket. It happened at the garment shop on that Friday, where prison uniforms are made (by prisoners). He was working next to a young man, they were sewing shirt collars. His neighbor would pass the piece he just finished to my husband in an assembly line fashion. This shop is run by a civilian (previously Joyce Mitchell), as most, if not all prison industries are. The woman in charge took issue with the fact that my husband was explaining something to his neighbor and also complained that the young man was too slow. Being who he is, my husband spoke up to defend his actions. The woman immediately called for backup. Several officers arrived and, as the 'workers' were being dismissed, my husband and the other man were detained. They both had the same last name. My husband received a ticket. The other man did not. He was locked in (keep lock) for about two days (23 hours per day) until his hearing. The hearing officer sentenced him to 15 days loss of privileges but no keep lock and he lost his job (which did NOT break his heart).

This ticket tale has a happy ending because it doesn't count against him as far as Family Reunion Program or Preferential Transfer go. I am pleasantly surprised and cautiously hopeful that now he will move closer to home. I can only dream of the day when this life is a memory and he is home. I cannot even begin to imagine what he must be feeling right now. However, just like my people in Puerto Rico say, "Nos Levantaremos... We Will Rise Again!"