Twas the Night

The Woman Who Waits- ♥

Twas the night before Christmas
And there all alone
I saw a young woman
Who sat by the phone

For what was she waiting
On this holiday night
Where were the stockings
Christmas tree,and lights?

I saw one little tear
As it rolled down her face
And she curled up in a blanket
Then looked round the place

Something was missing
Someone not there
In her face I saw sadness
Did I also see fear?

I paused and I wondered
What could it be?
That would cause a young woman
To look so lonely

How could anyone so precious
Choose such a life?
Then I realized this woman
Was a prisoner's wife.

Her gift for this Christmas
Is to hear that phone ring
“Hey baby, I miss you
Don’t worry about a thing”

Each day I thank God for the woman who waits
Ever willing to stay faithful while her man is away
But how often do I ever remember think
About the young woman who is that prisoner’s wife

Thank you God for these women
They are just as strong
They sacrifice daily
And without help get along

So God please protect our families while these men do time
On this holiday eve so late
And give an extra hug
To their women who wait


It has finally hit me - I think. Five. Yes, only five more week until my husband will finally be home. This journey has been so hard yet so amazing. I say amazing because it has taught me the true meaning of patience, it has taught me the meaning of love and it has made me realize who I am.

Who I am because I always thought of myself as a strong person but this has put me to the test. And to me this test has been worthy of all of the ups and downs and the hardships. It was all worth it because in just five short months my husband will be home. Finally.

Its almost unreal feeling. I knew it would come but to sit here and think in just five weeks, my husband will be next to me seems almost like a fantasy. A fantasy in deed.

I am so excited yet so anxious all at the same time. I remember a conversation Tom and I once had, we sat and pondered what it would feel like to have under 100 days, then 60 days and now just weeks. I have to admit it is an amazing feeling. To think that it will 10.5 months of my husband being gone and to finally having this over is heaven. Its seems unreal but I know it is coming soon and I am so happy.

"When I first came to Idaho I never thought that I would meet someone like you. I knew I would meet someone and I thought when I got arrested I figured that would be it. I owuld be all alone again and do this by myself. And i do have to admit that there was doubt in my mind that it wouldn't work. I thought when I got here and we started this that you would realize how hard this is and bail. But again you amaze me. You have done more than I could ever ask for from anyone. You have been by my side and supported me emotionally and financially. You amaze me everyday when I call and you are in good spirits. You amaze me everyday when i get a letter that you find time to write in between your three jobs. You just amaze me more and more everyday. But not that we are about done there is no doubt in my mind that we will make it. We have had out ups and a lot of downs but have made it babe! It's over with for us! We did it babe! I'm so proud to call you my wife. If we can do this babe we can do anything. Our future looks bright. Now we can put this behind us and focus on our future and worry about making babies! I love you so much babe. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of you and how much you mean to me. Thank you for everything," writes my husband in my Christmas card. Little does he know that I am so proud of him. He is my better half, my best friend and my husband for always and 4-Life.

‎"Before I met my husband,

I'd never fallen in love.

I'd stepped in it a few times." -Rita Rudner


You would think after 260 days I would be used to going to bed alone, that the silence would be soothing and I would be no longer turn to tell him something - but it's still there. A total of 260 days since that very day of him being locked away. Now its been eight months since I have seen him, eight L-O-N-G months. Damn, it seemed like having just 48 days left would never come and now that we are here, all I feel is anxious with excitement.

I honestly like explain the feeling that is felt deep down within me.

Some days I feel so excited I am happy other days, I am so excited I want to cry - yet after 260 days there are most certainly days that I still miss him, that I still want him, that I still need him. Its still hard. I can't deny that, at all. It's almost as though the last 48 days are the hardest, then the 30, then the 20 and finally the 10.

We are both nervous, nervous in seeing each other in what will be 10 months; nervous for the "start" of our marriage and nervous for life. The what-ifs go still through both of our minds after 260 days. I always wondered what it would feel like to be three digits into this instead of three digits away from this. And while it hasn't been easy, it hasn't been fun, the 260 plus will be worth it I am sure of that.


It seems like forever since I have blogged. Work, work, oh yeah and work has gotten in my way of writing. BUT tonight, tonight I am not sure if its the fact that I am extremely over tired or the sappy music in the background, maybe a combination of them both has me in tears. God, we have hit the 100 days and now it seems like time is dragging. Every time I look at the countdown it seems to be on the same day it was before.

While I am ever so anxious that Tom is coming home soon, I am nervous as hell. Point blank period.

I am nervous because we have to start over, get used to one another again. It will be 10 months since I have slept in the same bed as my husband. Ugh. To some that isn't long but it is. Its like almost saying "I do" all over again. Your heart races and you think of now, then and the future. What the future has for you two and what will happen.

Some days I am scared. Some excited. I have to be honest and say this is all so overwhelming. You don't know what to do with yourself or what to do next. Once he is home everything will be different again. You wonder will it be the same, like before he left? Will he insist to always have my head rest against his shoulder at night, that his legs always be wrapped within mine. The kisses, oh the kisses. I couldn't even tell you what its like to kiss. Shit, I can't even tell you how he acts anymore, his habits are no longer my habits. Sometimes I need to get on DOC just to see him, because in reality that is the most recent photo. The photos of us together are no longer us.

I miss Tom a lot tonight.

Is it?

There comes a time in all of this that your memory shifts, you no longer remember the smells, the look in his eyes or even how his lip curls. I sit and close my eyes trying my hardest just trying to myself in his arms, in his presence. Anything.

So I am so behind on laundry I reached to Tom's side of the closet and pulled out one of his treasured white tees. I slipped it over my head and as it hit my shoulders and rested, I stopped.

Took a deep breath.

Closed my eyes.

And there.

Right there it seemed he was right there with me. His scent still saturated the tee. If I knew this I probably would have wasted this treasure a long time ago. I would have wore out all of his tees in the beginning of this journey. But here I am breathing him in, as if it his him.


All I can do is cry.

Cry because it makes me happy, yet breaks my heart. I never knew you could miss someone so much. Love someone so much. Is it pathetic to sit here basking in his scent?


This is a love story, one not generally discussed in public. But if there’s one thing that I do know about myself it’s that I hate secrets, secrets mean shame, and that I am not now, nor will I ever be, ashamed that I am a woman who has loved someone, and that someone has loved me. And even though people have asked me if I have lost my mind, if I am lonely or desperate, even though so many people have wondered if I was having a crisis, or determined that I was just going through a phase, I will continue loving the man I am loving. I will love him even though he’s got an ugly past, skeletons and sorrow. Even though he doesn’t have a great job, or position or power I will continue loving him.
I am a prison wife. Yes, a wife of a prisoner. Our wedding didn’t consist of an expensive wedding dress, a big bouquet of flowers or black ties, in fact, the only thing black and white was my husband’s outfit.
My husband, Tom, was escorted upstairs at the Lemhi County Courthouse by an officer, his hands cuffed in front of him and dressed in black and white stripes. I remember walking back and forth, unable to relax. The courtroom empty but the very few people that were there, including an officer and Fred Snook. Tom and I stood face to face, our hands wrapped into each other’s yet his wrists never free from the silver bracelets. Snook stood there reciting our vows, asking us to repeat after him and in that moment, that very moment, all the butterflies, nervousness and unsureness disappeared.
Making this decision didn’t come easy. As Tom sat waiting to be extradited to New Jersey, I tossed around the idea he proposed of becoming husband and wife. There were many people that insisted we just wait, “Why do you need to marry each other right now,” “Just wait until he gets home,” “Do you really want to get married that way?” We didn’t need to marry each other, we wanted to marry each other.
Looking back at it now, we both realize that we married more in lust than love at the time. We were more worried of losing the relationship than allowing our relationship to grow at the time. But looking back at it, we don’t regret it. At all. Either one of us.
Tom has always been honest with me in the situation he is in and he apologizes for everything, yet he has nothing to be sorry for. I accepted Tom and the situation so I could never be mad over it, I could never hold it against him. I had two choices, walk away and try to forget about him and the love we shared or stick to my promise of always being there for him.
So April 7, we became Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, the first couple to wed in Lemhi County while one spouse was incarcerated, maybe that’s our claim to fame. I kept my promise even though our marriage seemed to start off with the “worse” than the “better.”
We knew Tom would be transferred 2,500 miles away but we never knew it would just be a short four days away from the day we married. When I found out that they transferred him, I just pulled over crying, feeling helpless and unknown of my next move. As he was flown to New Jersey and finally settled into an assignment facility, we were now not only adjusting to husband and wife, but to a long distance relationship on special terms.
Our lives became completely different. I never realized life within bars or the toll that it not only takes on the inmate but the loved ones as well. Chow has replaced dinners at the table for my husband, the ability to walk outside is guarded by officers and communication is limited. While most of America has closed relationships, personal disagreements, intimate moments, ours is never hidden. Our phone calls always start with, “Push 5 to accept this call,” and while I love you and I miss you are always our last words it always follows a, “You have 30 seconds remaining,” reminding us someone may always be listening. Letters are opened and read, word for word. And after 200 plus days the nervousness and the empty pit in my stomach are still there from the what could happen, the what ifs and hows.
Tom and I have learned to adjust. Adjusting to being completely exposed and sometimes judged. I have learned the true meaning of genuine and the difference between caring and curious. Some people judge me, my husband and us, as a married couple. The situation has taught us the real meaning of not caring what people think because when it comes down to it we love one another. Sometimes the looks, the comments do hurt but we have built a pretty good foundation and can always rely on one another.
I am in love with a man who wants to become his own more perfect creation, a man committed to the transformation of himself, of the world. And the world he imagined was like the world I imagined. I fell in love with a man that I couldn’t really explain, all I could say is he loves me and I love him. I am in love with a felon, I married a man while in jail yet I married the most genuine man, I am in love with someone who makes me happy, I am in love with a man that I am very proud to call my husband. Everyone has two sides, a good side, a bad side - a future and a past - we have to accept both in our partner. You can’t expect the good without some bad, and eventually some good will come out of bad.
We have overcome struggles, celebrated battles, took pride in the small things like hitting 100 days or our six month anniversary but this week we are celebrating a different one. It’s no longer how many days we have done, because as of today, October 20 we have 99 days left. Hitting double digits is pretty amazing, going from three months, to over 300 days unexpectedly and now under 100 days, is a blessing. That’s what this is, a blessing. I am blessed to have an amazing, caring husband, very supportive, honest, true to me and we are both blessed to have this love. I am excited to pass this mark and very excited to see my husband for the first time since April 11. Could you imagine a love that you would risk everything for? That you would be willing to experience the worse just to see what the better was?

"Hey baby, how the hell are you today? I got this wonderful anniversary card today from my wonderful wife today! Thank you so much baby, you're so amazing! So that was nice to get thank you again! But your letters got me a little down though. While you do deserve and will have good and bad days I get worried when you have more bad days than better ones. I hope everything is okay with you today. You have seemed to have a lot of better days, its good, its just when you have bad days in a row that I worry. We are at the point now that it should be getting better. Its almost over with and every day down is one more closer to each other. I'm so happy to have you as my wife and I have bad day myself where I get down but it lifts me to know what I am going home to. About the wonderful life I am going to have when all this is over with. You have to look at the bright side of things. It may be bad right now but it can only get better from here on out. I love you with all my heart and I'm never leaving you again! I swear!"

It is still amazing to me how Tom and I can lift each other up. As I read into this letter, it was a over a few days, Tom was kinda down in it. No matter what we are always there for one another. Always. The Good. The Bad. The triumphs and failures. What else could I ask for?

Real Love

Today six months ago I married a loving man - a caring man. Six months ago we never realized that this would be "us," that our mornings wouldn't be milk and Sports Center but chow time and snooze buttons. We never thought that our three month "sentence" would turn into just under a year. Yet even though it seems as though Tom and I have been put to the test, we have prevailed, we have passed. We are stronger than ever at this point. Both strong individually and even stronger as a team.

Six months ago I made the best decision by marrying Tom, it may not be the way I wanted it to happen - but I am still happy. I am happy that I found my soul mate, my best friend, my lover. To this day it still seems to surreal. I still ask myself is this real? How can one single person be in love this much?

Half a year may not seem like anything to some and maybe a fraction to others but none the less, we have made it. Some couples will not be put to the test, they will fall into their habits of work, children, bed times and holidays - while other families will know what its like to struggle without the other to go on with your life without your better half there.

So here is to six months. Six months for real love and to just a fraction of our lifetime.

Sitting here drafting my letter and card to mark our six months of marriage has me thinking of where we have been and where we are going. While Tom and I rarely "fight" we do argue but the other is quick to just give in because we are aware of how short our calls are. We never want to waste a minute. A second. Six months ago we didn't know what was in store for us, we couldn't predict the future which entailed extra charges and far more than three months that we anticipated. So while I sit here without my husband I know that this will be the last, which makes me grateful. Six months may not seem like a long time or a big deal, but it is when your marriage has been filled with 15 minute phone calls, letters, money orders and not one single night together as husband and wife. In six months time Tom and I will celebrate our one year anniversary, which is something to look forward too. Some nights it is hard to go to sleep without him in bed, to wonder what he is thinking, and how he is doing. Six months. It seems just like yesterday we committed our lives together yet it seems decades ago. The time has taken its toll on both of us. The emotional stress, the unknowing the stress in general can take the best of you. I will not allow this to take us down, we will make the best of short time we have left.

"So I got myself a letter today from this wonderful woman with the same last name as me! She has amazed me since the day I met her in her father's restaurant one night. It must be fate cause she only worked three nights a week and the one night I go in there she is working. Even while she has been working all day at the newspaper and then went straight to work at her dad's she was still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. The first time we went out to dinner the look in her eyes just melted me. I think from that point on I knew I had to have her if it was the last thing I did. Luckily enough she did accept me as her boyfriend! From that day on she has continued to amaze me with her wonderful support and love that she gives me. No matter how down and out I am as soon as I hear her voice I feel so much lighter. I will forever show her love any way I can. I will love this woman till death do us part because she did the honor of being my wife. Her name is Annette Lewis and she is the love of my life. I may not be with her because of certain situations but every night I tell her goodnight and tell her how much I love her always and 4-Life. She is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing I see at night unless I get the privilege of seeing her in my dreams. Again baby, I will love you forever babe! I am proud to call you my wife and always will!!"


The days are continuing to shed and as everyday that passes I seem to be getting this surge of energy and happiness. One more month and we are under 100 days, that makes me happy. I couldn't even begin to explain how this time has put a hold on our relationship yet has allowed us to grow. As each day passes its like almost nerve wrecking because while I am hopeful no one could say they don't have doubts. I have doubts of what it will be like when Tom is home. I want to make sure he is happy not down and out when he is home and to know that he always has a home where I will always support him. Doubts of how we will merge as husband and wife. When he left we were "living together" and were just dating not, married. When he arrives home, we will be Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, its nerve wrecking not knowing the next move or next chapter yet it is exciting. I am anxious to see where we will end up, whether moving to a bigger town or keeping Salmon our home, when will we have children and our soon-to-be renewal of vows. I am so anxious on every level. And while we are still in triple digits, its under 200, thank God. Together I know Tom and I can accomplish anything, and overcome this biggest hurdles. We have this undying love in one another, an extreme commitment and an amazing support system. Together we are unbreakable.


There is an old say "absence makes the heart grow fonder." While for some people time make break you, worry you or even just pressure you, in our situation it has the "heart grow fonder." I can't say that this experience has been sugarplums and fairies yet this has brought us closer to each other and has really made us aware of the love we have. Tom and I were talking last night about where would be if he never had those silver bracelets around him wrists March 23.

Would we be married? Probably not. Yes, Tom and I may or may not have jumped into marriage too soon, yet we are happy we did. This time apart has opened our eyes to "bigger and better" things. We no longer focus on us as individuals or our outcome, its now "us" as a team. Having a person, a man, like Tom in my life has made me realize how much I have been missing out this whole time. So when Tom was pulled out of my life so fast, I soon awoke and made the promise to myself and Tom that this wasn't going to be the end. Now that we have been apart for over 160 days, we have left the past buried and look forward to our future together. He has developed hopes and dreams that maybe he would have never had, I have realized that my hopes and dreams are of children, marriage and sharing in my success with a wonderful husband. So now our life no longer consists of sleeping in one another's arms, there is no longer surprise lunches, balloons, flowers or jewelry.

And when your loved one is absent, those things don't matter. What matters now is their voice, their letters, their cards and their precious love. I got this amazing card in the mail from my husband. It is beautiful in its bright colors and precise lines but its more beautiful because it shows he cares. Over 160 days he is still making me smile, laugh and still melts my heart. He still goes out of his way to send me something special, it doesn't cost a lot, isn't something major but it is special. This wonderful card already has its own frame and hanging close to my bed. It reminds me every single day how lucky I am. Lucky to have him in my life, as my husband and so lucky to be in love with him. Tom and I share a lot of love between us, yet we are growing all of this fantastic love as well.


Tom humbled me tonight. As the phone rang I was so anxious to finally talk to him, talk to someone today! I shared how I was lonely and depressed today. His reply, "Its okay." To me its not okay or fine, so his response kind of enraged me. It made me mad because I felt like I was sharing something with him and here he was dismissing it, something he wasn't doing. He says, "It could be worse." To me, today, it can't. But as my husband explained to me, that to him we are good, he's good and I'm good. "When people ask me how I am, I always say 'good.' I have no other choice not to be good," he said.

He is so right.

"Every one has it harder or easier compared to the next person," he went on. So right again. He seemed to always find a positive in a world of negatives. Today I sit here, lonely and depressed but I know in the long run it won't be like this forever and I should be thankful for that. There are dozens of other men facing years without their freedom and dozens of "prison wives" facing years of lonely Sundays like this one. I was humbled in the fact that I shouldn't sit here and feel sorry for myself. We have no other choice in this situation, we have no other choice of what the outcome will be, we must just continue in staying strong in our marriage looking forward to the future. None of us should, we have chosen this path, we must embrace it and make the most out of it that we can. While our loved ones may not be able to experience everyday life with us, we can still embrace the present and look toward the future, leaving the past buried.

Some days I yearn for contact with Tom so much that I just want to sift through the enormous pile of letters just to re-read his love for me, the way he is changing and how precious our marriage is to him. Our Sundays used to consist of sleeping in, cuddling, television shows and cuddling some more. Today I can't kick the heartache of my husband not being here, and even though it may seem like we should be used to it by now, or don't have that much time left, the pain still lives on inside of me. Its one of those days you don't want to get out of bed, you aren't tired and you feel fine, but I would rather lay in bed just closing my eyes and thinking of him here with me. The way he used to wrap his arms around me, or had to have his legs intertwined within mine. But while I sit here and miss him like hell, I can only take into consideration of the positive that we will have from the present negative.

Tom and I have traded it all for love.

We traded in the big white wedding adorned with flowers and attended by extended family by us looking into each other's eyes in a courtroom with him in handcuffs. We have traded our hopes and dreams of great jobs, additional schooling and a family, for a lifestyle of just being on idle. Our lives are now day in and day out, writing letters, work and phone calls. Our dreams of a real family will come when he arrives home and his hopes of a bread-winning job will come once he succeeds in additional schooling, like he wants. We have traded in nights of falling asleep in each other's arms to sleepless nights alone laying in bed just wondering about the other. We have traded in face-to-face communication for hand written letters that don't ever seem to be enough, for 15-minute phone calls with the dreaded, "You have 60 seconds remaining."

When it comes down to it, we would have traded so much more just to have one another. I love him, he loves me and here we are. We have accepted the situation and while we both hate Sundays, we know we only have a handful of Sundays left until that one Sunday we can sleep in, cuddle, watch television and cuddle some more.

Our current lifestyle is only temporary, and we both know what we have traded in will all come back once we continue our lives hand in hand.

Hope, wishes, dreams, promises not to give them up - this has been our world for the past 162 days. When my husband and I first started this journey we thought we would be reunited just a few months, 90 days, we were hopeful to keep it together within that short period of time. In the mean time our love, our dedication has been put to the test. Our 90 days soon turned into a bout 340.

Three hundred and forty. Here we are, stronger than ever, still pushing forward. While the extra days have put a bad taste in our mouths our love still flows through our veins giving life to each others' soul.
I remember the day he told me of the extra time, the time that would keep us apart for the best majority of our first year of marriage, the time that we won't see one another in person - I was sitting on his mother's porch. He was just recently moved from a holding facility to a low security state prison. He now occupied a bunk in a room with about 15 other men, all serving their fair share of time. I remember I could hear him choke up, knowing the words that were about to leave his mouth would break me. It broke me to know this man, this man I fell so deeply in love with, one who was taking great strides for his future, for our future would be kept from me for almost 250 more days. Two hundred and fifty more.
One minute I was coming to terms of the situation we were in, becoming happy and now I was trying to pick myself up without crying without showing fear. Here he was thinking his stint would be short term which changed his thinking. Adjusting to months rather than days, making him get that mentality back of being locked up. Giving up wasn't an option. We took a vow to love each other for better or worse, while it got worse he was still my husband and I was still his wife. Even though his time tripled I would still be his wife at the end of it, no questions asked.
So here we are, 2,500 mile apart still yet some days it feels like there is no distance at all, because when it comes down to it, we are closer than ever. While this is not the ideal lifestyle for a newly wed couple, two wanting a family yet this has allowed us to open up and share on a whole new level. We haven't seen each other in over 120 days, and it can take a toll on you and your marriage but I try to always remember that man. That man that is still becoming his own perfect creation, who is still committed to the transformation of himself.
Even hitting this small bump in the road I know we can overcome this, and at the end of this road we will rejoice in our triumph. We both have our good days and our bad, especially since we just recently passed our halfway point but at the end of this I know we will look back and be proud of ourselves. I am still madly in love with a felon, and proudly wear the label "prison wife." There is no shame in our household, we continue to hold our heads high because we are in love no matter what our situation. Our marriage consists of a lot of trust and communication, bottom line, and why would I be ashamed of feeling a love like this? Whether he is here or there he is still the man I fell in love with and still proudly claim the Lewis name. This is my life, his life and our life together. We have no secrets. There are no secrets within our walls, no hidden stories no tale tails just us, living this life we have been dealt and making the best of it.
When I bow my head tonight, there will be no me, myself and I, its keep my husband safe and in the right mindset, keep our soon-to-be growing family safe and healthy and to please keep our love as amazing as it today, tomorrow as well.

Could It . . .

Inmates sometimes get what they call the "fuck its," where they no longer care how much time they may have left, what trouble they could get in, they push the envelope and it sometimes turns into a downward spiral. As the wife of an inmate, I feel like I get the "could its." Could he really be home in under 200 days? Could he go back? Could he really be ready for the changes in his life he promises? Could this be it? The could its, effects me in a different way that the fuck its affect my husband. My could its give me a hang out, question myself, him and the situation while the fuck its give him rage to be careless. The could its make me wonder the what ifs and wonder what will my life be like. What if its not what he expected? Or what I expected? What if we can't get over this hump? Could this happen to us? I am sure a lot of women wonder as I do, what next. We have been moving along for this long but will it payoff like we expect? Our love can withstand this pressure, stress but can it withstand the true test of time? When my husband called today I had all of these questions but I know the answers, so why do these questions run through my head? Why can't I be content today? I know tomorrow will be a new day, a new horizon and it will work out, but what is it today? My could its are overwhelming me today, taking over my mind and corrupting my soul. Some days I don't even know who I am, what I think I am and now what I see looking back at me in the mirror. Yesterday I was strong, stood tall and today I feel helpless, hopeless, yet I know tomorrow I will once again gain that courage to continue on this path of love.

Common Ground

This lifestyle isn't for everyone. Some women prevail while some women fail. Mothers either choose to support their children through thick and thin while wives are put through the true test of for better or for worse. Every day life is consumed with something else, you can no longer focus on just you and your relationship you are now focusing on the "what ifs" and the "could its." And I admit somedays its not only hard to get out of bed but its hard to stay positive, upbeat or even to pretend too. This lifestyle is something I never dreamed of as a young girl, I am sure nothing my parents dreamed of me having, hell not Tom's either. While we can have constant negatives around us whether it be no financial help, lawyers, appeals, school, work the list can go on and on depending on the woman and the situation. One thing that helps me a lot is other women in this same situation. We all have this common bond of this taboo love of inmates, something we can't really explain but just know its right. While we continue down this path of hand written letters, 15-minute phone calls we sit and compare. Compare crimes, time, journeys and struggles. Shit, I will be the first to admit, I have not been labeled a "prison wife" for a fraction of what a lot of women have but I do know this is my life too. I know I am not afraid to admit my husband is an inmate. I know I am not afraid to preach the bad and the good of this situation and that love, love can still be behind bars. I won't be in this situation forever, or even years but for my "sisters" who are, I care for them, treat them with respect and let them feel how they feel. Not every single person is affected in the same exact way. What I may be happy about, one may be mad about and what may be a positive for her may be a negative for me. Whether my husband will be home in five months, five years or five decades that doesn't change that fact that I too am in this situation, that I too have struggles yet have triumphs. I want to stand with other women in rejoice to have one another to confide in, trust and understand, not belittle and judge. As loved ones of inmates we should be reaching out to one another offering information and resources because when it comes down to it we are already judged by the better bulk of America. I don't want to be judged by the same people who are living the same life as me.

This thing named Irene . . . .

The feeling of uncertainty can kill you. Its a black hole in your stomach, that affects every vein in your entire body. What seems to be a black hole lies deep within, making you feel helpless because that's what I am. Here at just after midnight, I cannot wonder what my husband is doing, where he is and if he is okay. You see right now he is in the middle of Hurricane Irene. The knots in my stomach get tighter by each passing minute. The unknowing of what is going on is killing me. You see while a lot of people say, "He will be fine," I am sure he will but the feeling, the possibility of maybe something does happen, its a sickening feeling. One day they are being evacuated, the next they aren't and to find out 500 inmates are evacuated yet your husband isn't one of them, sucks for the lack of better words. You see Tom isn't in a concrete or cement building with high walls surrounding him, he is in a low security unit, housed by trailers on the compound and with the recent tornado warnings, it intensifies the feeling that much more. I can't really explain the feeling of maybe something happening to someone you love, to your spouse. I feel like I just got him and I never want to lose him. I hate that this has to happen now, this year, it sucks. Tom would sit here and say I am overreacting and its not a big deal, but why isn't it? Why isn't it a big deal when something can potentially harm someone you love, fill your life with sadness or even make that much more difficult to live. Not hearing my phone ring all day was one of the worst feelings because while I assume he is part of the two million people without power I do not know for sure. I don't know what is happening, where what how and why - and the worst part is that he is in the middle of a situation that he has no control over. He can't come and go as he pleases, he can't take shelter in something or somewhere else, so where does that leave him? I wonder what is he thinking right now? What is he doing right now? Is there water creeping up his bunk? Have the winds affected the housing unit? All I can do is wait. Wait it out. Wait for the phone to ring. Wait to hear his voice. But in the mean time, I love him with all my heart, everything I am.

*UPDATE* While the two days were horrible, hearing his voice was amazing! It makes you realize how much you love someone and really don't want to lose that person! He was evacuated to a nearby person, I was suppose to be notified, but wasn't but then again they can't call 2,000 plus wives for an overnight stay. But he is okay, and we are back to "normal" well besides mail. =)

Today it really hit me, part of this "lifestyle" of being a prison wife isn't not being able to share accomplishments. Small things like cleaning out and vacuuming my car (which is kind of a big deal to me since thats his department) to something big, well big to me. Growing up I have always been creative, always creating, thinking of anything and everything and when I was hired at newspaper over three years ago, my passion flourished. My passion soon turned from drawing to graphic arts and my words of melody soon became news worthy pieces and feature stories. I have always wanted to step out from the newspaper business, as a freelance writer, and after a few years my first magazine feature is in Idaho Magazine in the September issue. I was excited to open the mailbox to see the large envelope which encased my three complimentary copies, I soon ripped it open to browse the colorful pages to see my name, my picture, my photographs anything really. I went into my apartment and sat on the couch and it dawned on me, the one person I want to share my accomplishment with isn't here. I wish we could go have a celebratory drink, hell I wish I could just hear an,"that's good baby." Now I know that will come in a phone call and he will tell me all the sweet things and the "I'm proud of yous" but it would be so nice to just have it in person.

I guess it never really dawned on me that things like this are taken for granted in everyday life. Even things when Tom scores a 90 on a test in his trade class, or even something simple like a good cooked meal. The small things are really what count and I miss them.

I wish he was here just to read it and look at the photographs in person with me rather than me making photo copies and mailing them, allowing someone else to read them first and then him. I hate the process, I hate the distance but I love this man. I know one day soon the accomplishments will be grander and greater and they will sprout both he and I, and in return we will be able to share in these wonderful things in our life together. Right now I will copy the eight page spread send it in an envelope and I know he will appreciate it, say he loves it, but I am sure he wants to be home to celebrate these small moments just as much as I want him here.

Halfway to the Top

154 days spent sleeping alone in bed
154 days without breaking bread together
154 days without a conversation being recorded
154 days filled with lined paper and 44 cent stamps
154 days of waking up alone, falling asleep alone and just feeling alone
154 days of unknowing what the future really had for us

Today, Tom has been away for 154 days to be exact. 154. It seems like forever yet its just a few months. 154 days, I don't even know what its like to lay next to him anymore, not to mention I haven't seen him in 143 of those. Sometimes I sit, close my eyes and try to imagine his face, the way he laughed, the way he looked at me - yet those times seem to only come in my dreams which I soon forget them, and the feeling they give me. While Tom has been gone for 154 days, he has 155 left. Yes, only 155. Which means today is halfway. Today is the day we have reached the top of that mountain, now to only descend to the bottom, which is a positive!

155 days until I can really hug him
155 days until I can finally fall asleep in his arms again
155 days until I realize why I have been doing this the whole time
155 days until I can spend my first night with my husband
155 days until I can be free, and really happy again

I have been looking forward to our halfway mark. Having a countdown of how many days he has left and a count up of how long he has been gone on my phone, I seemed to have plagued myself of the constant reminder of this. BUT starting tomorrow, he will have less days to serve then he has been gone, thank you Jesus!! See a number like 340, 250 etc etc is so overwhelming and to finally get to a place where we are on the other end is a great feeling. Lets be honest 155 days may seem short to others, long to others - but none the less, I am happy that in just a few months he will be home. And when he is finally home, I will feel on top of the world rather than a mountain. This is a real test of love, whether it is decades, years, months, weeks, like Tom says you can really see who is on your side once you get locked up. I know in 155 days this nightmare will be over and we will finally be able to live of our lives without fear. I can't wait. Only 155 days.

Save Me

It is amazing to me how love can affect you. How love can change affect your life. Where you think your life is one way, going a certain way and then everything changes all of a sudden. Like me, I was working just focusing on my life as it was and then a train hit me. That train was Tom. I once told Tom "love is overrated," as he reminds me all the time.

I once was in a dark place in my life. My nights consisted of drinking, anything with alcohol percentage over five percent, my demons consistently followed me, creeping into my daily life, my love life, my head, my thoughts. My tunnel had no light at the end of it and somehow I was recovering. You see I am good at hiding, hiding my struggles, my trials and tribulations - I hate when people say I am sorry, as if they pity who I am. I hate the attention hurt and pain can bring from others, its just not me, so I have trained myself to be stronger than I need to be and sometimes should be. But none the less I overcame that day I sat at the edge of my bed, contemplating, taking my life with the revolver that rested in my hand. I had already sunk to my bottom, rock bottom in fact and it seemed like there was no chance for me to be free.

I have overcame that day, moved on from the drinking and the demons. Part of that recovery was myself, learning to love who I am, learn exactly who I am, and then Tom came along. Between Tom and I, he most certainly has the "past" yet I seemed to be the broken one. His hurt was worn on his sleeves, the scars, the lines on his face - all shown his true strength. The inner strength has had to develop almost on his own to be the man he is today. I feel broken compared to him, how can this one man who has seen things I don't want to think about, be more together than me? Somehow he was. Somehow he fell in love with me, I fell in love with him, he saved me.

He saved me in the way of showing me real love. I have never in my life felt this love, this type of never dying love. A love that sees past our hard times, bad times and still come together to appreciate one another. He saved me in the terms of believing in me, which gave my the courage to believe in myself. Its like Tom swept in with an S on his chest, and not taking me from my pain and hurt but saving me from my pain and hurt. I couldn't imagine where I would be without Tom, and I would like to think he would say the same thing. But when it comes down to it, he's my hero. A man that stepped up showed my love, showered me with respect, listened and if he can't he at least tries to understand. So I wonder where I would be without him, without his love? It probably wouldn't be pretty, or slightly good for at least in my mind.

I thank him almost everyday for loving me, coming into my life and for being him.

Forever and a Day

Forever my days are spent loving you
I miss everything about you
Some days I have to slow down my breathing
So I can get a grip on my heart
I can't wait to hold you in my arms
My apology for the days we have that are bad
There are many ways of making it up to you
Just like the many ways to love you
I can't wait for my special day with you
Better yet I can't wait to just hold you
Just to spend forever and a day with you
Makes my love for you grow by the seconds
So I want you to know 4-Life, From the bottom of my heart
I am blessed to spend, Forever and a day with you!"
Could I ask for anything more?
This is why I continue to fall in love with a man over again when I haven't seen in over 100 days and a man that I can only talk to in 15-minute intervals. This couldn't have came a better day, really. While Tom and I are looking at our halfway mark this Thursday, Tom could have came home this week as well. I know it is bittersweet. I have always preached "everything happens for a reason," but why this? Why did we have to catch 180 more days? Really? But like like we say, "it is what it is." While it would be fabulous to have him here, we both know its obviously not in the cards and when it comes down to it, it may not be in the cards until his release day.
Reading what he wrote makes my heart melt, because its positive that we are halfway done, yet still have XXX days left. Its hard because reality hits whens we both realize we have done so many days already and are still in the three digits. And maybe we both just realized that this past week. Tom writes this gets harder and harder and it always makes me wonder, what if.
"I'm sorry to put you through all this and like I said before I promise to never leave you again! Now also I lay here at night wondering how its going to be when I do get home. I know this is hard and its only been 90 days and I worry some times that something will happen in the next 200 or whatever days. I know you say you are here to stay and you have been supportive as hell through this but I have seen it a hundred times where it starts out great and the letters and money and phone are coming in constantly but then it gets close to the and and they say they met someone else and they just kept up with everything to make sure you were okay till you got out or they say that they are scared that you may go back or do something stupid to get you sent back and they want to end it now before it happens. Or worse off, all the love just fades away and thats the one that scares me."
He wrote that back in July but seems it be in play now. While we are still both supportive and love is not fading, its hard to maintain a relationship hell a marriage under these terms. The whats ifs, the what if he gives up, what if he can't handle it, the coulda, shoulda, woulda's all come into play. But while neither one of us can admit that this is easy, a piece of cake, we are still here. We are both trekking through this slowly but surely and poems like this, make it worth while.
So maybe the "everything happens for a reason" was to bring us closer, learn more about one another, really explore our goals, philosophy of life or finally just realize how much we really love one another. Whatever the reason may be, it is what it is. I still love my husband, I am still supporting him 120 percent, and when that day finally comes of him when I can finally have his fingers in between mine, I know we both will look back and say, "Look at what we did, can you believe it." Because when it comes down to it, its love.

Miss You So Much

"Oh well as long as I have you that is all that matters to me! So do you know how much I miss you babe? Damn, I wish for one night we could just be together and be able to fall asleep in eachother's arms again. I'd be able to do the rest of this on my head if we would be able to have one night together! But believe me, when this is over I will never leave you again and we will cherish everyday from that day on together! I don't ever want to be apart again like this. It's killing me to be here with a bunch of idiots and not to be with my wife." - August 13
"So anyways have I told you how much I miss you today? Well, I'm miss you like crazy today! damn I wish I could at least see you, the pics are nice but to be able to see you in person would make this so much easier for the both of us. When I call and you say that you had a bad day cause you were really missing me, I try to really play like I'm ok but inside its really killing me! Damn it kills me not to be able to see you. Everyday I wake up in here gets harder and harder but I try to remember that everyday I wake up in here is one day closer to being home with my wife. So I have to be strong cause it only hurts worse when I realize how long we have been apart and how much time we have left till we are back together again! With that being said all that is left to say is babe, we have to be strong and never broken! This will pass and we will make it. I love you with all my heart baby." - August 14
I can't begin to tell you how this affects me, reading this makes my heartache. Its aches because I feel exactly how he does, it aches because I wish I could see him everyday to take away his pain. This feeling has to be one of the worst, seeing someone you love so much in pain, lost and you really can't do anything to change it. While he gets letters daily, photos, newspapers, books, copies of my blog its not the same. For me, I don't get photos, I get letters and calls - its been over 100 days since I have seen my husband. The distance has killed us, when he was here in county jail I saw him six days a week since there were no visits on Thursdays, now he gets none. I wish I could fly tomorrow to surprise him, to just show him how much I love him. The 2,500 miles that separates us seems to be like a brick wall, no passing it.

Reading the words "harder and harder" is like a dagger to my heart, a rip in my soul because it should be getting easier, we are almost at our halfway point. The word harder is like a what if to me, what if he gives up, what if it gets too hard for him, what if, what if, what if. All we can do is close our eyes and daydream, or with any luck see one another in our dreams.

Tom and I have over 100 days left until we see each other, while it isn't a long time for a lot of women, it is for us, he has already been gone for 148 days. It seems like forever since he has been gone yet years until he is home again. All we can do is try to stay strong for one another, strong and never broken, that's it we have been so strong and never broken. We can only stay committed in our marriage and like he says cherish each day when he gets home.

But in the mean time, what do you do?

Head In the Clouds

Today I really missed Tom. It was just one of those days that it's not a "bad" day you just can't get your mind off of him, and any other prison wife will know exactly what I am talking about. Its like everything you see reminds you of him, every song is your song and you just wish he was coming home tomorrow rather than 161 days from now, but what are you gonna do right? Today I caught myself looking into the sky, wondering was he looking at the sky at that very moment too? I seem to do this a lot. Like is he looking at the moon when I am? Is he missing me right this second, is he laying on his bunk wondering what I am doing while he listening to his long awaited radio? The clock assumes my time, whether its getting home to answer the phone or to just wonder what he is doing at that time. Like right now its 11:43 p.m. in New Jersey, which means he is probably fast asleep after reading a chapter in his book, listening to the Eagles games. God, this man has my head in the clouds, but the best part is watching the sunrise, clouds pass and the sunset, knowing another day is closer to having my husband home. A day which I have been looking forward to for 147 days now (I think that's how long). Once I got onto the phone with him tonight, I could feel the smile from ear to ear and hear the smile in his voice, was worth all of the missing him. Laughing with him, teasing one another and just to hear "I love you" and "I miss you" for the last 60 seconds over and over, makes me not even want to hit the end button on my phone. I love Mr. Lewis and he is worth everyday that has already passed and all the days we have ahead.

I feel like people ask me this all the time but without the words, they think it, they want to ask but they never muster up the courage. So is this what I believe in, or am I settling? This situation is nothing I ever thought I would be in nor something I even imagined I would agree to. If you asked me when I was 16, 18, hell 23, would I marry a man in the Lemhi County Courthouse, while he wore black and white strips? Would I take the chance and put all of me into this? I would have said no, never.

So at 25 here I am, married to man in prison, so am I settling or do I believe in this?

I have always been a lover, I love hard, I love for real - so that is what I believe in. I am not settling. The only think I am settling on is allowing this situation get the best of me, because when it comes down to it, this isn't for the weak. This is for the strong, the willing, the ones who are ready to give it their all - not ones who easily give up. While a lot of people may weak women marry men in prison, weak women stick with a man in prison but its takes a very solid person to put up with the visits, the calls, the letters and lack of communication, love, affection. Its like trying to get pull a warm-hearted feeling from a cold empty place.

I believe in love, the commitment of marriage and that is why I am here in this position. I am in this because I believe in the man I married, I love him and I wouldn't have married him especially in these circumstances if I didn't have the faith and love from him and for him.

Settling is something in a court case, a payment, there is no settling in my marriage, this right now is what I believe in. I know once these days go by and he is home again what you call settling you will then call destiny.

"Never will I do that!" I once explained yet here I am, an hour and half later here I am with "endless love" on the inside of my ring finger and "T & A 4-Life 4-7-11" on the opposite side.

Yes, I got our initials tattooed on my ring finger.
Explanation? Love. Commitment.

T & A for Tom and Annette
4-Life for him, he always signs his letters "Your Husband 4-Life"
4-7-11 for the day we said I do.
Endless Love because that is what this is endless love
Tom kinda wanted me to wait for him to get it done but to me it's something I wanted to do on my own, something to show, to prove my love, my devotion.
And Here It Is. In raw form, in fact with traces of the stencil.

While our marriage is permanent so is the ink that will forever remind me of my wonderful husband. Every time I look down I will see this, and it will only remind me of the amazing man I met and married, the commitment we share and the trials that we have already had to face. Some people may think it is a bad idea, that marriage isn't guaranteed, that things happen but you're right things happen - like love. Why do people always assume the worst, why not the best. Tom and I have already been through a lot, we have already had to struggle for 145 days of our marriage, yes 145 days. Yet that is okay. I am okay with the situation because I know when he is home we will have the life together and that's all that matters.

I love my husband, I am committed to him 120 percent.
We only have 164 more days, another day down is another day closer
to having each other into our arms.

Tom has left an impression in my heart, something that will never cease,
a print on my soul and now forever on my skin, a permanent stain.

One Small Day

Sometimes I don't understand how you can feel so on top of the world and then BAM, so down, like six feet under, numb, paralyzed, like sleeping and not waking up again. The ups and downs and joys and hurts of this situation is draining, and no one understands it unless you are in it. I can't explain how much I love my husband and yet be so down all of a sudden or the joy of hearing the phone ring to the hurt or extra charges or a failed appeal. I try so hard to act like I am okay but when someone asks, "How are you" or "How much longer" I just smile and answer like it doesn't phase me.

I try to seem strong every day, for myself a lot of the time. No one sees my struggles just my troubles - the troubles of trying to juggle three plus jobs, balancing having a husband on prison and 2,500 miles away. Its a lot and sometimes I am fooling myself and I just gotta break down. Welcome to my day.

I can't even pin point where in my day I was fine then went to irritated, frustrated, depressed and now just sad. I think its the time I come home. I had a great time with my best friend last night, much girl time full of laughter, going to work and then coming home its hits me like a brick wall. A brick wall of reality that Tom isn't here, he won't be for months and I am alone. Loneliness is something I feel a lot, its hard to have that person in your life, your best friend and your lover but who isn't there with you because of circumstances you can't control it. I think I hit the wall when I feel left, I feel left by friends its like as soon as I got married or they found out where Tom is - I didn't exist and that hurts. It hurts to be judged, when you can still be happily married but they just see the cover of the situation and they never ask anything, they assume.

Some days its hard to stay strong or to even smile, all I want to do is break down, cry, yell, kick and scream but I can't. I know I have to keep my chin up for me and my husband. I have to stay strong because so many people want to see my fail. The things that keep me going is my husband first and foremost, his always encouraging words, my true friends and not always understanding but supportive family. This is a constant fight but I know we will prevail, its just one small day out of the total XXX days.

More than the Moon

"Happy Anniversary baby! Four months and going strong! After this nothing can stop us baby. I'm so happy that April 7th we made the decision to spend the rest of our lives together. That is one of the best decisions I could have ever made in my life! To marry a woman who is everything that I'm not. She is reliable, funny, strong willed and caring. She keeps me together when I want to crumble. She picks me up when I fall down. And she is there when no one else is. She is my wife till death do us part! I love you with all my heart baby always and 4-Life!"

Tom was right, after this, nothing can stop us. This has definitely been a test of our love, dedication and a test of our commitment. Yeah we have only been married for four months but four months he has been locked up, four months of collect calls, letters, and four months of complete devotion. Everyday I think of how blessed I am to have this kind of love, this man - while others see him as just an inmate, just an offender I see him.

I see the potential in him, yet I see the pain, I see the love he has and the love he needs - I see past his bad decisions and encourage the right ones, because what matters is the present and the future. We let the past be the past, bury those skeletons and move on that is what keeps us as a unit.

April 7th I married my best friend and I wouldn't change it for the world. April 7th I made the right decision by marrying him. While he says I am everything he isn't like funny, strong willed, reliable and caring - I see all of those things within him. Four months really doesn't matter, what does matter is that love we share, the commitment we have for our marriage and focusing on the future. I love him more than the moon, at this point that is the only thing we share, the moon. Seeing the same thing thousands of miles away, I wish it was just that easy to see him. But one day soon we will be able to share the moon together, with one another, and I pray for it every single day.

My Life versus My Priorities

Some days just suck. Not because of work, or non-sense drama from family and friends just because Tom isn't here. Things constantly remind me of him whether its a smell, something I see or a stupid joke I know Tom would laugh at. Like the Taco Bell mild sauce, he would get it, he would laugh and I miss that! Funny things he says or does, or things that makes me laugh and smile.

While my life was thrown through a whirlwind in such a short period of time I wouldn't change it. Now my life is full of phone calls and letters and that's okay. Really. Sometimes people get my life versus my priorities intertwined. Yes, a lot of my time is consumed by collect calls, letter writing, letter reading, calling this and that person about an appeal, ordering books and sending money orders but that's my life. My priorities are my jobs especially because I need to survive. My priorities are my overall well being because Tom doesn't want anything but for me to be happy. And he would live without the list of things I do, but I do it because I love him.

Judging people say not to let my life revolve around him, it doesn't but he is my husband making him a huge part of my life. I still do me. I work, I have fun and Tom is apart of that. People say I shouldn't invest so much time in this right now because I may regret it later, what is that? So are they saying my marriage will fail because of where my husband is? But how am I suppose to make my marriage work without putting any effort into it?

It blows my mind how naive people can be in my own life. Tom makes me happy, I make him happy, its memories of laughter and love that keep us going, that keep our marriage a float along with the phone calls, letters and pictures. Besides whoever says that they have never put someone they love in front of something or someone else, is lying. Sorry but its true. Divorced or married, happy or miserable its happened.

So I miss Tom today. I wish I could laugh with him in person than wait until the phone rings but even though I miss him I am still alive this situation doesn't control my life, doesn't control who I am. I love my husband <3 And when it comes down to it I am going to fight for our marriage and for our happiness.

If you're a bird . . .

Doesn't everyone just love this movie? Okay well besides a lot of guys but it's a beautiful love story. A young woman from a well off family falls in the love with the man that just makes cents an hour and when her mother steps in, years tear them apart but love prevails and the two end up together till the end, literally. I love this story but I am a girl and I love a lot of love stories! Watching this always makes me cry and just made me think of what my "love" future would be. These stories seem to be fiction, things like that really don't happen, but they do for some people.

I interviewed a couple February 2010 who had been married for 72 years, yes, married for 72 years. Tom and I were dating at the time and insisted that he went, and it was nice to see an older (both 90) couple still so in love. And while they didn't have a story of years being apart or rich versus poor, their love story was extraordinary. Could you imagine being married for 72 years? Amazing. And sitting there with Tom made me wonder, would it be him? Would Tom and I have that kind of love?
Now months later, we do. Tom and I can't say we met as teenagers, or married at the naive age of 18 but we can say we have that love. So yes, these amazing love stories happen, maybe not so much like in the movies but they are true and I am one of them. People judge Tom and I, our marriage and the fact that Tom is in prison but what they don't understand is real love. A lot of people just don't understand until you are in that position, really, they preach they would never, could never but then they do. I was one of them. I had a list of must have's and has to's and guess what? Tom had what maybe one, two. Male and with a pulse. It's true.
But luckily I crumbled up that pointless list and fell madly in love with what is now my best friend. Sometimes you have to look past the exterior and feel something, like Allie and Noah. She looked past the fact that he had no money, really wasn't going anywhere and they fell in love. They laughed and fought but loved. Tom and I haven't really fought but I am sure as time goes on we will, but we laugh like its medicine and love like crazy.
So now when I watch these movies I understand. I understand that love because I have that love. I am so deeply in love with my husband I would do it all over again. All over again. And I know my husband loves me which gets me up every morning, happy throughout the day and puts a smile on my face when my head hits the pillow at night. I am so grateful not only to be married to my best friend, but to have this kind of love. And I know if I were a bird, Tom would be a bird.

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