It’s usually around this time when things begin to wind down in the build-up to the Christmas holidays I start to reflect on the year, and what an incredible year it has been for me personally. Occasionally, whilst reflecting on the year my thoughts go back further. Nothing wrong in reflecting to see how far you’ve come.
However, this morning, a post on LinkedIn took me back to a specific, and special, moment during my time at HMP Wayland. Before I go on to explain further, I would like to share with you the video I watched and listened to earlier today. With no attachment to the video, it is still extremely powerful but with the emotional attachment I have towards Wayland, because of my experience on one specific day, it had a massive impact on me, which in turn left the message of the video to have an even bigger impact on me. You know when you listen to a sad love song and think they must have written it for you. This is how I feel about the video I’m now going to share. It’s called ‘Don’t Quit’ and the title of this blog is in homage to this video.
Fifty-five seconds in, not only is there a clear shot of the visit’s hall, but also a clear shot of the pillar next to which sat my table at which, on a chilly day in March 2009, being the visit’s hall, I had a visit but not just any visit.
My daughter was born in 1991, by 1994, I was living in another part of the country and no longer in my daughter’s life. Between 1994 and 2009, I had met and had two sons with someone else, in 2009 I was no longer with the mother of my two sons; however, I was still in my son’s life, even from prison, more so from prison than I used to be when on the out.
I had previously received a letter from my son’s mum writing to say that my daughter had been looking for me and had contacted them. To cut a long story short, the outcome was a booked family visit at Wayland. Where, for the first time since 1994, I got to meet my daughter once again. Plus, it was also the first time I would get to see my three children together for the first time. And, yes there’s more haha!, my daughter was also pregnant at the time with my first granddaughter.
Being a family visit made it even more special as it meant we weren’t stuck to the table. We were permitted to move around the hall and utilise the games and other equipment such as a table pool game and a full-size table-tennis, both of which we had fun together playing on/with. Sounds like I’ve just described association time on the wing, only difference is you can’t shower on a family visit. It was a surreal but unforgettable couple of hours I got to spend with my children.
I’d like to think I’ve provided enough information as to why I have, and forever will have, an emotional attachment to Wayland and especially to that visit’s hall. Also, Wayland wasn’t a bad prison in my time there, so I’ve no bad memories of Wayland whatsoever. I’d like to think as well that you can understand why this video and words had such a positive impact on me.
Having said that, as Newton’s third law teaches us “for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction“, or, if you prefer, what goes up must come down, I had never felt and never again felt the post-visit blues as much as it hit me back in the safety of my cell after my visit that day. I wouldn’t change that day for the world, the set of circumstances could’ve been better, but they were what that were and it’s about making the best of the situation you are in, but after that day, visits never meant the same to me again. Rather than look forward to a visit, I would dread them and as you can imagine that feeling wasn’t exactly conducive to a great visit.
How do you tell someone you love but hate seeing them?