Silver Linings

“…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 COR 13:8

I literally found a bookmark today on the ground that had this Bible verse. It made me think of writing the following. -Emelia

Life is unpredictable. I never would have guessed that mine would go the direction it has, that I would face such struggle and have to overcome so much just to get here. I never would have willingly chosen this path had it been presented to me ala Matrix – red pill/ blue pill style- for anyone except Sean. Where does love like this come from? I do not know the answer, other than from God. I do not claim to be the best or the strongest, just a girl doing her best for the man who loves her the hardest. Looking back (and also looking forward), I wouldn’t have done it any other way. This journey has made us the people we are today, we have survived this together and come out stronger on the other side. I only wish we could have come into each others’ lives sooner.

Though I met Sean in the free world in elementary school, we lost touch for many years then became pen pals again about 8 years ago. I “met” him again the first time as adults in the prison visiting room. The man I love most in the world is still behind that concrete wall. I’ve been waiting for him to come home for over 3 very long years and he has been waiting more than 13 years for his freedom back. But all the years we’ve been friends have changed us both. I have grown so much stronger than I ever thought I would be or could be. I’ve gotten through some of the biggest challenges on my own; injury, illness, whatever life has thrown at me the past few years, because he could not be here with me. Though I know he wanted to more than anything.

I’ve leaned the un-value of material things when it comes to true happiness and having a good time. The best times Sean and I have together are at a prison visit with nothing in our hands but each others’.  One of the visiting officers likes to say “True love means you can be happy with nothing as long as you are together”. We make up silly games, jokes and make the most with a deck of cards. And it goes on and on, we could spend days like that together. So when he comes home doing something like going for a walk with our dog or cooking a meal together will seem like an absolute luxury, like a dream come true.

Most couples I have encountered have a pretty common theme among them. They meet in the real free world, they see each other and eventually somehow or another fall in love and have some sort of relationship. I feel so far removed from everyone else who has a husband/partner. I feel like we do not even belong in this category. We of the prison variety are a world all on our own. I have pretty much accepted that no one will ever totally understand Sean and I. And I am OK with that.

Some couples I know might get dressed up and go on a date, to a concert, or get dressed up for the holidays.  And while clothes are fun sometimes, the love of my life has only a prison uniform to wear. The only clothing I’ve ever seen him in have the bright yellow giant lettering CDCR PRISONER on them. I’ve never seen his bare feet, or seen him run or jump or really do anything besides sit at table and walk around. Slowly. Cautiously.

But this doesn’t make me see him as less of a man, or love him any less. No. It only makes me have more admiration and respect for him. Because he isn’t just living for himself. He is surviving de-humanizing conditions no one should ever have to face. Not merely surviving. SHINING. THRIVING. He has had his life ripped away from him and been denied justice for 13 years. Yet he still has unwavering faith and prays everyday for God to bring him home. He works as a painter for pennies an hour, works hard, and he is proud of the real world skills he is learning so he can use them when he comes home. Sean is a part of the REACH program to help young men make better choices and stay out of prison. For months this group has been meeting multiple times a week to practice the program, write speeches and talk about their own personal struggles in order to figure out how to connect with the young men because these guys really care. If that doesn’t seem like enough he is also on the Men’s Advisory Council which is a team of inmates working on making things better inside the prison. They meet with the warden regularly and have an agenda for their meeting of the issues they would like to work on and proposals of solutions. I am so proud to call this man my husband.

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About Sean & Emelia

In 2003 Sean O'Brien was wrongfully convicted in El Dorado County, CA and sentenced to Life Without Parole at the age of 16. We have been friends since grade school and are now married. Sean and I move forward together with the knowledge of his innocence, our faith in God, and hope that he will rightfully regain his freedom. Until then we embrace our journey wherever it may take us, cherishing each moment we have together and staying true to ourselves. This blog is about the past we share, our fight for freedom, life as it exists for us, and our path toward the future, whatever that may hold. Thank you for allowing us to be heard. God bless.
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