He Misses His Life

Today I will share the things Drew says to me on a regular basis. He misses his dog, Libbie. He asks me every time we talk how she is and what she’s doing. A friend’s dog died this past week. Drew feels pain for our friend, and he worries that Libbie will die while he is in prison. He misses his family and friends. He misses playing video games, streaming and entertaining people who share his interest in retro video games, especially Mario.

He tells me that his world right now has no color. Everything is gray. Loud and gray.

While we were talking by phone he overheard a bird singing in our backyard. He said he misses that sound. He goes outdoors usually once a week if he’s lucky. There are no songbirds where he lives. He misses being able to take a walk. He’s known as the young man in our neighborhood who always bounces a tennis ball while he’s walking. He’s also known as being very polite but a little shy. He misses his bedroom. It is his safe haven. He misses his grandma and grandpa. He worries they will die before he gets out of prison and he will never see them again. His paternal grandma died last year a few weeks after he was taken to prison. He was not allowed to attend her funeral.

He misses being able to make a cup of real coffee, a good salad, a sandwich, and my cooking. He misses grilling with his dad, holiday celebrations, and a world that is much more predictable. He misses being called Drew, instead of Offender Harrison. He misses wearing comfortable clothes.

He misses dignity, respect and living without the feelings of fear and shame that he does not deserve. He misses his life.

Attorneys and other legal professionals who have reviewed Drew’s case are surprised, even angered, by the judge’s decision. A few could not believe that Drew’s case was even prosecuted. We are told that this judge will be in charge of any future decision making in Drew’s case, period. If we file for a hearing of any kind it has to go before this judge for his approval. How can this be possible? Once you’ve shown that you do not have the willingness to consider autism how on earth are you allowed to hold power over a young man’s life for as long as you are sitting on the bench? I have to remind myself often that I am living in The United States of America because it doesn’t feel like it anymore.

My father, father-in-law, step-father, grandfathers, uncles and numerous friends have fought for this country. The ones who are living cannot believe that this injustice has been allowed. The ones who have passed would be angered and disappointed. They did not fight and put their lives on the line for this type of injustice and inhumanity to be allowed. Actually, that is what they fought against, injustice and inhumanity. They just didn’t know that it would be happening in this country to an innocent young man – their grandson, nephew, friend.

This case is an embarrassment to The Commonwealth of Virginia. It should be an embarrassment to every professional who could have made a difference but did not do so. To be fair, I am still grateful for the appellate judge who questioned this conviction.

I searched for a relevant quote to help me express what I’m feeling about every professional who can still help make a difference. “Those who do nothing while witnessing injustice and wrong-doing do worse than those who commit acts of injustice. The privileged have a responsibility to do what they know is right.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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