Dates. We so often celebrate them. The past year has been the first year in my life that I have grieved each and every holiday, and each “first” since Drew was taken from court on March 2, 2017 to serve time in prison.
If you’re even a little familiar with the story then you know the illogical decision making by the professionals. This case began with an arrest in August of 2012. The various hearings continued until March 2, 2017. Five years of proving that he was in no way a threat to the woman, or anyone else. Five years of jumping through every hoop the court tossed at him. Five years of weekly (sometimes more frequent) therapy sessions. Five years of living in constant fear of another court date, fear of police officers in general, fear…fear…fear. And then his worst fear of all came true, going to prison.
Today’s post isn’t going to be about legal details. Many of you have asked a lot of great questions, and I will answer them soon.
For today I want to focus on the past year. As I type this I am aware that almost to the hour a year ago my son addressed the court, a sincere, well-spoken and kind young man. I remember watching the judge. He did not even make eye contact with Drew as he spoke. I suppose it is difficult to look at an innocent young man with autism pleading for home incarceration instead of prison. My heart was breaking then, and it is breaking now.
I keep hoping and praying for a fearless journalist who wants a story that is ripe with injustice to sink their teeth into every detail of this case. To hold it up to the light and look at it for what it really is, not the legal smoke and mirrors.
The past week has been quite unbearable. What Drew endures has to be an intensity that I can’t even wrap my head around. I am proud of him for finding the strength to come this far. I’ve written before about what he goes through. What about the rest of us? His dad, his brother, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, his dog, and me…his mom?
I can’t go into a grocery store lately without having a panic attack. This has happened with frequency for the past year. But the past week has intensified. I’m okay in the produce section. Drew has never been a huge produce fan with the exception of a good salad. But then…every single other isle is filled with items I still reach for out of habit. STAY FOCUSED I tell myself. Don’t look at the Cheese-It’s, Frank’s Hot Sauce, Progresso soups, Cool Ranch Dorito’s, Stouffer’s Spaghetti with Meatballs, Dr. Pepper, V-8 Juice…stay away from the deli section, he loves sandwiches…the list goes on. And oh my gosh…the worst…when I even make it that far…Entenmann’s little mini powdered doughnuts. Those are his favorite. I know, like I said, the produce isle is easy. Drew tells me that when he comes home he wants to focus on healthier eating. Thank goodness he loves a good salad.
My husband went back to work after having retired in 2016. Legal expenses are not cheap. Having a son in prison is not cheap. The monthly expense to provide Drew with simple comforts is high since everything is ridiculously overpriced.
Drew’s brother experiences constant high levels of anxiety. He worries about his brother being hurt, or hurting himself. He worries about us. He is hesitant to date because he fears that a woman will make a false accusation about him. He is a gentleman and has the utmost respect for women.
During the first month Drew was gone we had extreme concerns about Libbie, our sweet little dog. They love each other. She grieved so much that she stopped eating. When your dog only weighs 3 pounds it is very concerning when they don’t eat. With time and cheese we were able to coax her back to eating.
An unexpected box arrived one day last April. A plain brown box with no return address label. Libbie kept sniffing and scratching it. I opened the box to find the clothes Drew had worn to court on March 2nd, his blue jeans, dress shirt and his shoes. No note. Just the smell of her boy – our boy. I hugged his clothes and found comfort that they still smelled like him. I put the blue jeans in his room on the floor. She still curls up on his jeans. I’m told that she likely thinks he is no longer living.
As for the pardon request we are still watiing and hoping to hear good news. Drew just wants to come home. He worries about his reputation being ruined forever when he knows he is innocent. But for now he just wants to come home where it is quiet, there are no bright lights, slamming metal doors, people yelling, loud screeching intercoms, whistles blowing and other constant sensory overloads. He says he just wants to snuggle his dog, eat a bowl of my soup while sitting on the deck with us, and sleep in his own bed.
For today I will allow myself to feel the grieving of so much. I miss my son, and I grieve the loss of the faith I once had in our criminal justice system. Today I will feel the pain of grieving. And then tomorrow I will get back to trying to get my son home where he belongs.