Being Brave

Never could I imagine that Tom would be able to come home early, and while it may not be permanent at this point - I seem to still be in "shock." I have to admit that it can be weird. Weird in the fact that we went from seeing each other one time in the last year to now living together again, finally. Weird in the fact that we have had to adjust to not only being together, but a "new" place together. Yet, it's weird in the fact that it is as though Tom has never left, we have picked up where we "left" off in a sense. When he walked out and we exchanged our first hug and kiss since our wedding date, it was like we had never been through the hell the last 399 days have put us through.

Going through the motions of being a "prison wife" is truly indescribable. No one could ever really imagine what it was like without living it, they can sit there and show sympathy and care but they don't understand the heartache, the stress and the horror of the unknown. You have women that don't understand "why." Why you would be with someone like that, why you would put yourself though that - and I have to admit before Tom was arrested I was that girl. I was the girl that wouldn't understand the love, the time, the patience and true love and dedication is takes to be in that position. It certainly wasn't "easy," that is for sure but I don't regret it. And I am sure, to some it may seem as though it is easy for me to say that because my husband is home for the time being. But I never once regretted the decision I made to not only marry Tom but to commit to this journey. I think that you never know how strong you really are when you have no other choice and in this lifestyle there is no other choice.

I feel as though right now I need to take advantage of the time we have with one another because Tom may have to do more time. We don't know for sure.  And we don't know really how long he will be home for with that being said I have to "prepare" myself for the worst in this time again. When Tom first left, the depression and heartache were unbearable, and I am sure if he has to leave again I will feel that again but I will be better equipped with the tools to take this journey on again.

It takes a brave woman to not only do this, but to continue one day after day.

Good things come to those who wait

Disclaimer: This blog is a combination of different days leading up to Tom's detention hearing.

April 18: Have you ever felt the that overwhelming happy feeling when you can't help but smile? What I thought was a joke at first, Tom said the words, "I'll be home next week," of course, Tom and I are always joking around. I can't ever remember specifically joking about this but it could have happened. Once he uttered those words I jumped out of my seat so I could speak to him in private.

As Tom explained the conversation that he had with his attorney, the good things that could finally happen. I was so overwhelmed, I didn't know what to do, what to say and then Tom said, "Good things come to those who wait." He was so right. Trying to rush, rush, rush is never a good thing - Tom and I have taken the "back road" is a lot of our issues. Whether it was cops, charges, lawyers, family or friends, whatever will happen, will happen. Tom and I only have control over so much, especially in this situation. 

So when he told me the plans of him coming home maybe next week its like butterflies, your mind begins to race of what you want to do, what you two could do and then you hit a brick wall. You can't get ahead of yourself, because it may not work out the way we expect or want. 

At the time of me writing this, it is April 18, 2012, the very day I found out the news. I want to record the date because Tom is very adamant about me not telling anyone! While this is very hard for me I don't want to lose this feeling, at all. He wants to be home, even if it is for a short time for now, I want to remember it and since I can't tell anyone, saving a draft in my blog is fine for now. If you are reading this Tom's hearing is gone and passed. Part of the reason I started this blog is to remember, to feel the ups and downs of this. You know when something big happens in your life and next week you no longer remember what it felt like, what you were thinking and then months later you forget what even happened. I want to remember, I want to remember because Tom and I truly love each other, and this is our life. The good and the bad and we are not ashamed. I want to be able to share this with the world not to mention our children. 

April 20: Now What? Five Days. That is how long we have to wait until our immediate future is determined - the date as been set, April 25, 2012. If it is in our favor I will take the three hour drive home with my husband - if not, I will continue home alone.

Right now I feel very overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in the fact that Tom doesn’t want anyone to know for two simple reasons. One, he doesn’t feel like people who haven’t been there in last the year should the satisfaction of feeling excited that he may soon be home. Two, we have been disappointed so many times during this journey - we don’t want to share until it is either a yes or no. Not sharing it with others kind of takes it away from my excitement, because I can’t share with others how I am really feeling.

I am overwhlemed with the fact that after Tom being gone over a year - jam packing everything, in five days is alot. While he insists that I don’t need to do anything around the house, I want to make sure that it is "perfect." He deserves that. I am on the fence on what to do, what to think. Of course the conversation Tom had with his lawyer, I had with Tom, and the conversation I had with the secetary, the chances of Tom coming home are very good, but what if he doesn’t? Can I handle that? Will Tom be okay?
Maybe our forever will start in five short days, maybe it will start April 25, 2012. So many things are running through my head, the good, the great, the bad and the worst. Maybe our forever will be postponed again.

April 22: Two days until the hearing ..... My everything is frazzled. My mind, my body - after "spring" cleaning, organizing and trying to spruce up the apartment for Toms long awaited arrival - I am at my wits end. Sick to my stomach. Sitting here, after talking to Tom - now the "horror" is setting in. What if this time next week I am sitting here - alone, lonely - still. I'm afraid of that. I am afraid of the toll it would take on not only me but Tom as well.  I am scared in all the ways I can be. Hopefully our bad luck runs out and we can finally get a "break." I want to be able to dance with my husband for no reason, I want to wake up to his smile, I want to come home to him, share a meal rather than eat alone, feel special, loved and have romance. Isn't that part of marriage? Don't we deserve that yet? How much should we suffer? I am ready for this, I think. While I have reservations because marriage takes a lot of effort and work - I want to have that rather than just a name change. 

April 24: As I lay here in bed all I can do is think of is this the last? Last night to sleep alone, last day to eat by myself, will I be able to wake up next to my husband soon. I hope so. I couldn't even begin to imagine how anxious and nervous I am yet excited to be able to take the three hour drive home. I have yearned for it for over a year now. We deserve this. We want this. Like Tom said tonight "be positive, think positive and positive things will happen" and they need to. So I will leave this tiny town tomorrow morning to return with my best friend. The love of my life. The Mr to this Mrs and I couldn't be happier. Happy to finally touch him, hug him, kiss him, hell look at him without a five-inch thick piece of glass between us! 

April 26: The four-hour drive I took for Tom's long awaited motion hearing. I felt sick to my stomach, not sure what to think what to expect and the time, the time seemed in slow motion. I felt as though I was a show, a court show that I would be at home watching. Here I was, this show was my real life. And it would determine our future. The hearing itself was heart-wrenching in the fact that we had no idea what was going to happen - good or bad. And honestly, Tom and I both thought probably bad. But at the end of what seemed like forever - Tom was granted release. It may not be permanent, but I will take what I can. I made the half hour trip to the jail that he was housed at, and paced. And paced. And paced. I felt like I paced around that place forever - then there he was. My husband. AHHHHHH

The hug. The kiss. 

Even though we shared our first hug and kiss since we wedding day was in a jail, when strangers staring at us - it was perfect. It seemed so surreal yet like he never left - you just pick up where you left off. Waking up next to my husband after 399 days locked up was like a dream. Was I imagining the love of my life curled up next to me? Right now, as he lays next to me on the couch it doesn't seem that "real" but I am loving it. 

Just a reminder

"Do you know how much I love and adore you? Damn baby I love you so much! You are my everything and everyday, no matter how bad it is, as long as I wake up to you being my loving wife is a great day. The day I married you is the greatest day of my life! That is the is the greatest day of my life until the dame comes when I am released from this f**king hell I am living, day in and day out. I think that is the thing that is really keeping me going everyday now. Just the thought of me finally coming home to you is the greatest feeling I get in here. Damn I miss you so very much today its not even funny."

You and I versus We and Us

Limited communication in a stressful environment can sometimes cause friction - it is almost a must at some point. Tom and I rarely "fight" I can probably count all the times we have fought on one hand, and it would most certainly be less than five. While we have disagreements we try not to get them to turn into a fight and that can be the sticky part for a lot of relationships.

This week along Tom has been "on one," he just hasn't seemed happy, he's grumpy and really negative. Times like these are hard to deal with especially for them. The letters I did get this week weren't as nice as usual and Tom just seems to be focusing the negative of this lifestyle then what I call the "long run." Of course I have no idea what it is like to be in jail, or even arrested for that matter so I have no idea what its like to serve over a year in prison, be transferred to six different facilities in a month and to sit - sit not knowing when you will be able to come home, start a family and especially for what he is "in" for now. So of course to him it seems to unfair and to me its unfair but I am on the outside so it is easier for me to say, "Everything will be okay." Tom is right I do get to get up and go to work in the morning, see my friends, go to lunch, do whatever I want - while he can't.

We can't sit and really discuss an issue its either a 15-minute phone call or a letter that will take at least a day to arrive. So Tom and I have kind of "adopted" ways of communicating to keep us "moving." A couple can't always get along and if they never argue or have a disagreement - I have to question that! But Tom and I are like most and do. When something happens the best we can do is talk about it and work it. Like recently I went to see Tom, first time in a year, the night before our 9 a.m. visit, I went out with friends. Not only did we go out but we closed the bar down didn't get back to our hotel room until 3 a.m. and I got what I call "shitty drunk." I had to get up at 6:30 a.m. so with just a few hours of sleep I got up took a shower and was on time for my visit, of course I looked tired and Tom and I talked about. He wasn't happy about the situation - he wasn't happy that I got drunk and went out. And not necessarily that I went out it was the fact that I went out the night before seeing him in a year and got way too intoxicated. 

While Tom does have trust issues thanks to past relationships I have always been extremely open and honest with everything that I do. So me going out all night raised an issue when those were two things Tom really did not want me to do - be out all night and get drunk. And Tom is not controlling by any means, does not tell me what to do or not to do - there are just boundaries in a relationship and we have gotten really good at expressing what we are comfortable with! 

So when Tom told me was a disappointed in me - ugh - worst words, right? Its one thing to be mad or upset - but disappointed? Horrible. We kinda touched on the subject at visit but we didn't let it put a damper on our visit, thankfully but it continued a few days later in our phone calls and letters. I can understand why Tom was disappointed, I don't have excuses but then again I didn't do anything "wrong." So what do we do? 

First I apologize, sometimes its better to just say you're sorry then act like you "shouldn't have to." Lets be honest sometimes saying "I'm sorry" is so much easier then having to fight about not saying it on top of another fight. And if it continues - its important to stay calm. Fighting seems to escalate when voices escalate. At some point I can longer say anything or do anything to make the situation better so I have to allow my husband to "get over it" on his own time. 

One thing that I think is a "trend" in our situation is the "game." Of course in a perfect situation (in this lifestyle) I would get a loving, caring, romantic letter accompanied by a phone call full of laughter and love but that isn't always the case. I have bad days, Tom has bad days and we are one another's best friends but sometimes that means we sometimes take the brunt of everything else. So if I am writing Tom more than he is writing me, vice versa or didn't call me when he was suppose to I don't think of him "owing" me because aren't we in this together? Things happen and sometimes I honestly don't feel like writing him and I don't want to talk but I always answer the call because I never know if he is "okay" or just needs to "vent." One thing that is important to me is not to "punish" Tom. When he does something, says something, doesn't do something - whether it is writing, calling - whatever it may be I do not want to punish him. He is being punished enough and me not writing him or ignoring his calls won't solve anything because once we do talk, we will have to talk about the not writing and not answering so to me its pointless and takes way to much energy then just talking about it and moving forward. 

Something that has really helped us is listening, which can be hard for a lot of couples. Listening takes effort and a lot of practice - something that has taken awhile for me to learn. Listening to your partner is key which means not talking. Allowing him to speak his mind, even if you want to debate it you have to let them finish! Sometimes this is the hardest part because with 15-minute calls you want to be able to get your two cents in.        Using the words "you" and "I" can be lethal. Using "you" can come off attacking which may have the other get defensive. You did this. You said that or when I did that, I said this. I try to say "it seems" or "its like" or even "I think," its not to abrupt in communicating. If that makes sense. Once you get defensive its like a bomb goes off and anything after that is downhill. Something I read awhile ago is to never use these two words  "always" and "never." Those two words can set you up for failure. Period. Saying "I will never" or "I always" its kind of like lying because chances are you might just do or say that one thing, said you would never do and won't say or do the thing you said you always will. Two words to stay clear of! 

Remember to pick and choose your "battles." What will really make a difference and what won't. Not everything is worth the fight or disagreement! 

Have a specific question pertaining to having a loved on in prison? Submit them here 

A day to remember

Clothes ironed, bags packed, IPhone, IPod, Nikon page
and hit the road to see Tom for the first time in almost a year!
Three hundred sixty three days. Three hundred sixty three days is a long time, just a few days short of a year. Three hundred sixty three days. Three hundred sixty three days is how long it took to see my husband face to face.

I went through the "what should I wear," when my husband ensured me, it didn't matter. And he was right. Like he said, we have stayed up all night, drooled, snored, with or without makeup I was beautiful, I could of wore sweats and he would have been happy. But I slowly ironed my clothes, packed up my stuff to take the three hour drive. I was only staying over night but I packed enough for probably three days, I wanted to be prepared.  I made sure to pack as many devices as I could as well, I wanted to capture every step of the way.

While driving down there the day before I couldn't help by imagine what it was going to be like to see Tom. I wouldn't be able to touch him, since he is in a county jail we are forced to visit through glass. I daydreamed of the last day I saw him, the last drive we took together. It made me think of where we once were and where are now because not only was I seeing my husband but it also landed on our first anniversary. We exchanged vows just days before he was extradited at the courthouse. A day I don't regret. The two days which are completely different, seemed so similar.

I was so nervous walking up the steps of the courthouse to say, "I do," and standing outside waiting to be escorted for a visit, was like torture. I was so scared and I am not sure why. I wanted to break down and cry, cry because I was excited, cry because I was nervous, cry because I was overwhelmed. But I held it in, I didn't want to be "that" girl. Crying BEFORE I got to see him? No. I later told Tom how I felt and said how weird that would be, but he quickly corrected me, "It wouldn't be weird, babe. It would be awkward." So I guess I didn't want to be that awkward wife. It was ironic seeing one another for the first time in almost a year on our anniversary. It was almost perfect, perfect in the way that it could be. Perfect in the sense that if he can't be home for it, I would want to be there with him and see him.
We passed through the snow and onto the freeway. 

As I followed the officer, I could feel the flutter of the butterflies in my stomach, the sweating of my hands and my heart, pound, pound, pound - over and over. I sat at the first chair in the room.  As I waited for Tom to arrive - I patiently sat on the horrible plastic chair, jittery and all.

Then there he was. I could feel my smile go ear to ear. It was him. He was no longer an envelope in my mailbox labeled No. 3, he was no longer a prepaid 15-minute call - he was right there, right there in front of me. It was so overwhelming. Going that long without seeing someone, its like you wonder what they look like, especially with the limited communication we have. We both grabbed the germ infested phones, and starred at one another through the thick glass. "Hey Babe," ahhhh - that was nice. To see him say that what amazing. He looks great. You would think that the time, the stress, the lack of amenities - would take a toll on him but he is still so handsome. His smile, his laugh, it was like falling in love with him all over again. He hasn't changed, changed physically, mentally yes, more positive, more looking toward the future. I was afraid of what the year could have done to him. But I didn't need to be - he was still perfect. "Happy Anniversary," we said to one another, Tom replied, "You know what else has been a year? I haven't kissed you or hugged you in a year." He was so right, the last time we kissed or even touched was on our wedding day, when we held hands as we exchanged vows and he kissed his bride.

My husband's "house" for now, but his home is always
here. Before visit photos, happy and nervous!! 
After being apart for so long, we picked up where we had left off. Like it was April 11, 2011, the last day I saw him, when we said our goodbyes. It was as though he never left, as though I have seen him every single day. It truly is amazing to be able to have that person you love, that you have dedicated so much to be right there, right there in front of me.

The hour seemed like 20 minutes, it flew by. But the laughter, the smiles and looking into each other's eyes was worth the three-hour drive for one hour. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I honestly couldn't even tell you what we really talked about. It just happened and it was perfect just the way it was.

We had our notice that time was up we said our goodbyes, to me personally it was depressing. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't want to leave him behind, while this facility has become his "house," his home was with me. The only way it could have gotten better is if I could have hugged him. I remember having this huge, SIGH, mad and upset that I had to go, that he had to leave. So I waited to be escorted out of the building again. As I walked to the car, I debated on whether I should shed the tear that was on the edge of falling. While I was sad, sad to leave, sad that this was still like this, sad that we have to continue on this way still - I was strong. I was strong that we have done this, strong to continue on every single day - I never cried. On the journey home, memories that I had pushed to the back of my mind of Tom and moments we shared, rushed to me all over again. It made me miss him even more.

After visit photos, so calm, cool and collected.
Even days later it seems like the visit makes me miss Tom even more. Yet, I think it was exactly what we needed. Tom has been gone for awhile, he has to mostly on the east coast while I have been on the west coast. Sometimes you get in a rut of the "what are we doing." And it made me realize that I am doing exactly what I should be doing, because I love him. I love Tom and if this is his life, this is my life. It gave our relationship a boost. A boost to our love, that we aren't in the "Okay babe," and the "love yous," it has made us more in love, rekindle our love really.

I feel so lucky to be able to see my husband and have the amazing connection we have even being apart. Its an amazing feeling. It was an amazing visit, on the perfect day, the perfect time, with the most perfect person. It truly was a day to remember.

The Best Feeling In Life

I was expecting something special from Tom this week since Saturday is our one year anniversary. It has gone by so fast, and I am not sure if I can blame that on the fact that he has been in jail the entire time or just everyday life. But none the less, it will very soon be a year. Its almost bittersweet because I am married to a great man. A great man. He is loving, caring, honest, appreciative and yet we don't see each other, we don't live with one another, we are apart. I actually received two letters today, and I read the "wrong" one first, which revealed what the other envelope contained. Tom apologized when he sent the letter because it wasn't what he has sent in the past. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't need to be colorful, neatly drawn, because this time this came straight from him. No one else, just my husband and that is perfect, just fine actually. And it reads:

"The Best Feeling In Life 
The best feeling in life is waiting the sun rise, all while thinking of your big beautiful eyes. The best feeling in life is getting a letter, cause I know coming from you it will make me feel better. The best feeling in life is a phone call call that in the middle, I make you laugh even if it's just a little. The best feeling in life is when you come to see me, it makes me know how happy in life I will be. The best feeling in life is watching the sun set, it makes me feel as good as the day we met. The funny thing is that the best feeling in my life, is all those moments shared with my wife! 
Love Always and 4 Life! Your Husband! 
Thomas Cooper Lewis Jr. 
This is the "best feeling in life." I can't even begin to tell you how in love I am with my husband. I don't need a "present," flowers, or dinner. I just need his love, that is perfectly fine for me, Mrs. Lewis. April 7, 2011 wasn't perfect, but it's our day, and I love that. Its a day when we can celebrate us, our vows and our undying, enduring love for another. Today, I feel pretty lucky to have such an amazing man.

Included with the poem was this was a disclaimer:
"Hey baby, its Friday afternoon and I'm mailing and I'm mailing out a cheesy poem for our one year anniversary. I don't really have much of a choice on what to get you for our anniversary but I figured this was something nice cause unlike the poems in the past, I wrote this one. I know its corny but I tried hard and it actually took me a week to write it. I hope you love it but I don't want you to frame it or anything, but just stick it in a scrapbook or something and keep it as a token of my love cause I think you are the only woman I have ever done that for. I wish I could have gotten you more, but once again lets hope for next year! I love you baby with all my heart and I always will. I haven't told you this in awhile but you are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I really do appreciate everything that you do for me. Everything! Don't ever think different, I may not say it or show it all the time but I really do baby." 
- And he's the best thing that has happened to me - 

The new challenge on Strong Prison Wives is "Love <3 You." Taking a minute, an hour, a day, a weekend to do something for yourself. It seems we are always running around worrying about everyone else, letters, phone calls, money on his books - but what do you for you? So I have to admit, I rarely take my own advice, so today I decided I should since its been a stressful week. After dinner I made a quick trip to the store to grab some bubble bath! I had the option of two, Mr. Bubble or some cheap stuff - went with the cheap stuff, not only was is just one dollar, it was raspberry vanilla. I have an obsession with vanilla. Literally. I was really not into it once I got home, but I needed to stick to the "love you." I lit the candles, filled the tub with hot water, turned on the iPod, and watched the bubbles grow. As I slipped into the warm water, closed my eyes I thought to myself, "Ahhhhh, so nice." It is nice to just lay there, whether it was in the bath or not, just to be unbothered, was relaxing. Since I am not a big "bath" person, I must prefer a shower, it didn't last long. As I climbed out of the bath I noticed there was the same amount of water on the bathroom floor than there was in the tub. But it made me use my new towels I purchased months ago. All in all, I feel a little better that I took time for me. I loved me today!

Broken & Torn

I am a reality TV junkie. Watch it, love it! And reality like Real Housewives and Mob Wives, not reality competitions like Survive. I like to watch people live, fight, and love. Tonight's episode of Mob Wives really touched me. I don't usually blog about things I watch or see but it was ironic since I was just telling a friend on what its like when a loved on is taken away - trying to explain on what it's like. As I sat here writing Tom a letter, telling him how the fact that our anniversary is coming up and it is hard for me, Mob Wives started. An emotional episode when Renee's father and husband back in prison. Of course Renee is a wreck, the rumors the unknown. The "best" part of the show is the one-on-one interviews. The emotional wreck Renee is, is touching to the fact that I know how she is feeling. I am sure this is probably not the first time she has been through this roller coaster - but this time, it was taped and produced for the world to see. She said some things that really made me think and remember what it was like for me, personally when Tom was arrested. It is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced a loved one arrested and taken to jail. It is literally like someone being ripped away. The day Tom was arrested I searched and searched and searched online for ways women dealt with this, and if I was "weird" for feeling this way. It really is a feeling of someone dying with them living, as odd as that sounds. They are ripped away, clothes sent home, the memories linger at home and while they call the emotions are almost unbearable. This person you love so much is taken, gone, vanished - it is heart wrenching. When Renee went on with the aftermath of "losing" them, the depression begins to set in. You really want to "hide in your shell" and be "under ground." It is hard to be around people even other people that know what this is like or even missing the same person. It is hard. It is hard to celebrate anything, holidays or birthdays; it is hard to pretend that everything is okay, when its not. To me, personally, I am grateful to watch it. Watch it in the fact that this is real life, that this happens and these are real feelings. On a show focused on the "mob" lifestyle - my lifestyle is being a prison wife. A wife that has experienced all of those same emotions and continues day by day - like Renee said, "That is what a wife does, the bid with you." While it is a rough time the wife seems to bare all of the weight on her shoulders. I am the wife, and I am doing the bid. Those emotions are things main stream society don't get or understand. But while Renee's situation is "extreme" and completely different than mine - I can feel that emotion, I can feel that hurt and pain and maybe I am not healed in the way that I feel it still especially while I watch this.

Another month down, the first day of the month is always a realization for me that we are slowly but surely getting through this. The past couple of weeks has been difficult for Tom and I in the fact that we have no idea what the future holds for either of us. We don't know when Tom will be home, but we can't allow that to get us down. Tom and I have passed the year mark, developed a fantastic relationship full of trust and support and one hundred percent communication. Of course I miss him, but we are okay, we will be okay.  Last night it was super windy outside and as the wind roared through all of a sudden I could hear something hitting, due to the wind. At first I didn't pay attention to it. Then it dawned on me that one time it was really windy when Tom was home. We were laying in bed watching television and heard a pounding. The pounding hard, loud and seemed to get more persistent, Tom played detective to find the source. The quickly slipped on his shoes, threw on a jacket and was bound to go outside. Now I felt like I had to get involved, I had to act interested. But at Tom began to go outside, I suggested the idea the maybe it was coming from the laundry room. "I don't think so babe," he replied, but to please me he walked back there, I followed, as we stood back there he says, "Its not back here babe, its outside I think." I quickly began looking around and there was a tube hanging down, one that would be hooked to a dryer, so it travels outside. I got Tom's attention and showed him, the wind was traveling through tube making it hit the wall. I felt validated that I was right. We fixed the problem and Tom said, "Good job babe!" When that memory came rushing to me last night it made me laugh on the whole situation on how Tom wanted to be the hero. And made me realize how much we must rely on memories especially when Tom and I were separated with him on the east coast and we didn't see each other for almost a year. We are forced to remember the great times because until they come home, the "great" times can't really exist. Yes there are good times but nothing can compare to the times you share with them, trips, cuddling, anything really. But no matter what I am still in love with him, wouldn't trade it for the world - I am still a fool for him.

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