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!!"

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