The Next Step

I have never written down the situation that has brought Tom home or the fact that he may be re-incarcerated. While I am his wife, part of the reason is the fact that I don't feel like it's necessarily my "laundry to air." But as the days turn to week we come closer and closer to the realization that our future depends on one single person. That one single person being District Court Judge Lynn B. Winmill. 

Back Story: March 23, 2011 Tom was arrested while driving my care after the US Marshals sought him out on a warrant stemming from a parole violation out of New Jersey. (I was not in the car with him) When Tom was detained they searched the vehicle, in the trunk of the car my registered .38 caliber Smith & Wesson was unloaded in the trunk. So, my car - my gun yet I wasn't in the the vehicle. Tom was already a felon and if you are familiar with the law, that means a stipulation in becoming a felon means you cannot posses any firearm, weapon or ammunition. He was questioned about the gun and Tom was honest. He admitted to knowing the gun was there, in fact, Tom moved the firearm from the cab of the car to the trunk and urged me to get rid of it. I debated the situation and now it's something I look back and say, "I should have done that." I left the firearm in the trunk of my car, I was naive in the fact that I assumed nothing would happen. Well it did. Shortly after that Tom was extradited back to New Jersey to "fulfill" the warrant. He spent over a year in New Jersey. We patiently waited as the time ticked down and he release date lurked. With only 19 days until his release, Tom was served with papers informing him that he was being charged with felon in possession of a firearm, which ensured him of staying in custody. He made his was back from New Jersey to Idaho when he finally made it his resting place of Blackfoot. 

In Blackfoot we decided to take our chances with a detention hearing. A hearing you get one chance at in federal court and depending on different factors you could be released. Luckily by the grace of God, the magistrate judge allowed Tom to go home. It was like a breath of fresh air - finally after almost 15 months my husband would be home. So that day Tom came home (which is just over a month ago) and since then he has received an ankle monitor, has been working two jobs, have had a home visit and we are doing great. 

Last week Tom received a call from his lawyer, we had a few options left. In reality his case isn't detailed or needs elaborate investigation. We has three options: 
1) Ask for an extension. Which wasn't a for sure thing especially since his case doesn't need any more investigation there was no real need for it. 
2) Go to Trial. While a lot of people will just go to trial. It seemed like it would be the right decision, it was my gun, my car, he never discharged it, never carried it on him, never borrowed, never even really admired it. Once a jury heard that, it would be easy to have a innocent verdict, right? Is that a decision you are willing to take. Did Tom commit a violent crime? No. He committed the crime once he got into a vehicle which a firearm was in, that's it and that's all it takes. So innocence Tom would walk out of the courtroom, a free man. A guilty verdict, Tom could be sentenced up to 10 years, is that a gamble which you would take? Especially when they will determine your guilt or innocence on whether he was in possession of it, and it would be considered "constructive possession." 
3) Plea Guilty. Why would you do that? Does he want to go back to prison? No. Why plea guilty? It gives Tom a chance. It may seem silly but it does. 

Today we took the three hour drive to Pocatello, parked at the federal courthouse and came face to face with his judge. Tom entered a guilty plea, decided not to go to trial. A decision as a married couple we made since it directly affects our lives. It was a decision that wasn't taken lightly yet didn't take us a long time to determine. We knew it had to be better than take our chance at trial which Tom was honest with authorities and acknowledged the firearm was there, which could severely play against him in trial. 

He now has a sentencing date of August 20. It seems so close. And I am very sure that Tom is undoubtedly stressed about the future. With Tom being released on an ankle bracelet, we are hoping that it can continue. We can not predict what will happen especially since there are sentencing guidelines with federal charges. All we can do is continue with what we are doing. Respecting the rules and boundaries that comes with his release and collect more letters of character for his sentencing date. 

For my own personal feelings and emotions on the matter go here:

When Tom was serving time in New Jersey I was so consumed by my countdown. Months, weeks, days. I was consumed with daydreams I once had of the future we would have, plans that I made by myself. The time shattered the plans, the daydreams - all of my high hopes. Since Tom has been home on a pre-trial release it has opened my eyes to the things that make us - US. To things that never mattered, like vacations, parties, hell other people. What mattered was us. Our relationship and the reality of our life. 

Sitting here right this very second with my husband laying on the couch is a blessing. I know what it is like to have my husband gone, away - not see him for over a year, celebrate our anniversary and birthdays apart, go through the ups and downs of the lifestyle. Now as time moves closer to his August 20 sentencing date, I can honestly say that the knot in my stomach becomes harder, and worse. I became use to the horrible phone system, the visits and sometimes lack off, the constant letters and 15-minute calls - but I can't begin to explain what's its like to "prepare."

Even though we are not for sure that Tom will go back to prison, it does run through your head. The what ifs. 

What if he went back? 
What if he gets years? 
What if it doesn't go in your favor? 

The what ifs can kill you. Today as I sat in the courtroom behind Tom, I began to re-think where we were to where we are. The trials and tribulations we have overcame. The struggles that have made us stronger. I know I am a strong woman. I am a strong wife. But this is wearing on me. It is hard. Sometimes I just want to cry, to allow the pain to leave my body. Yet I feel weak if I do it while Tom is home. I feel lucky to have him so why should I cry? I knew the time would come when Tom would have to report to the court for the charges, I was hesitant in liking the idea of him coming home early because of these feelings. I allowed Tom to make that decision on his own. While I didn't want him to come home to leave again, I wasn't the one in jail either.  August 20 will determine our lives. While it won't be our life forever it will have barring on our life in our forever. When Tom plead guilty its like lying almost because he never really "did" anything and hearing the word "guilty" is a no way back street. 

My heart hurts thinking of being able to lose Tom all over again. To be in and out and go in again, makes me sick to my stomach. All I want to do is cry, lose it - But I know I need to be strong for me, for Tom. Just because my husband is home doesn't mean that we are free and clear. That I don't hurt too. That we aren't still haunted by this. I am afraid of losing my husband. Adjusting to him being home has been a challenge, having to adjust if he has to leave will be even harder. It has been a difficult day, yet we need keep moving forward. 

Just to be with You

Having the day off for Memorial Day was a little extra boost to the weekend to spend more time with my husband and the best part is that we had no plans. Score! So we stumbled out of bed late, got ready for the day and decided to go shopping. We strolled through the store picking up odds and ends, things we didn't necessarily need but wanted. When we hit our last stop, Tom spotted a display of kites. He was lured in by their bright colors and the excitement it could bring upon our afternoon. So we checked out with kit in tow and off we were. After putting our new goodies away and watering our flowers Tom broke out the kite. He quickly assembled the plastic toy and off her was. He struggled to get the kite up in the air due to the lack of wind. I just patiently waited as he ran back and forth in front of our apartment trying to avoid the branches of the trees. Tom finally caught a break when the kite began to drift into the sky. He let the string out allowing it to climb higher and higher. Tom kept repeating, "I haven't flown a kite in years." Years he said, like a young kid. This simple, maybe, $4.99 toy brought so much joy to Tom which I have to admit that it surprised me. It surprised me in the way that he enjoyed it so much. The simplest things can bring the biggest joys. A kite. That's it. The kite flew high above our heads into the sunlight and all I could think about is how wonderful it is that Tom is home. How happy he is. How happy a kite made him. It child-like things like indoor camping, kites and coloring are simple things that bring big joys and some real ease. To me personally, the small things like this is what makes me happy. Seeing Tom happy. The best part is that Tom kept the kite so he could fly it again!

Since Tom has been home we have been trying to do fun things, anything really. Things together, especially with the possibility of Tom not being home "permanently" yet. With Tom's curfew and limited travel we have adapted pretty well. So this weekend while a lot of people are out barbecuing and camping, we worked. So while we couldn't spend the night in sleeping bags or take in the sweet pine smell - I concocted a plan. I adjusted the camping to suit our needs, creating "indoor camping." I moved our coffee table made a nice little bed, strung white Christmas lights around the living room, Tom was the brains behind the tent, I gathered some candles as the campfire and even made s'mores from a recipe thanks to Pinterest. Most camping excludes electronic devices but I have to admit that we watched a scary movie, which Tom reassured me that the scary movie makes up for the scary stories around the campfire. To a lot of people it's childish and that's okay by us. As we sat in our little tent, eating our s'more and drinking milk, I looked over at Tom and said, "You must really love me." He just replied, "It's all for you babe, whatever you want." He really does love me. This was really silly. At 26 and Tom at 31 here we were sitting on blankets and pillows on the floor of our cozy apartment under a sheet, lights across the ceiling, like we were both 8 years old. I am pretty sure Tom wasn't "excited" about indoor camping but he is always a good sport. Tom must really love me because what grown man wants to do this? We cuddled up next to one another and it was at this time I was really convinced we are perfect for one another. Both so willing to do whatever it was to make each other feel loved, to be happy and just to be with one another. 

My happy thought

Something that I love so much about my relationship with Tom is the fact that we are always having fun. We laugh, we joke, we play around - we don't take everything so seriously. Something I desperately missed while he was away. I can always count on Tom to brighten my day, or even just make my day even better. I am not even sure why we click to easily over everything but I feel completely lucky. Lucky to happily married with Tom home. Lucky to laugh with my husband. Tom is my happy thought. Whether we are joking around in public together or having a tickling match, fun is what we strive for. You can never be too happy. We just make the best out of everything. 
Tonight I am really grateful I have a funny, witty and silly husband. <3 Here's to my happy thought. 

Becoming Domesticated

Top, left to right: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Homemade Beef Stroganoff, Biscuits
& Gravy, Cheese Ball preparation, Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Chocolate
Chip Cookie Dough.
I have always liked to cook but I never really "practiced" my skills. I can contribute my knowledge of the basics and then some to my father, a chef. I have grown up in the restaurant lifestyle. Cooking whatever I wanted, having the best of the best at my fingertips. Now being a wife and Tom actually home - I have really tried to "become domesticated." Having Tom home after 14 months in prison has been an adjustment period. You have to adjust with housework, communication, simple things like television and food. Cooking for myself while Tom was gone was chicken, chicken and more chicken. I just love chicken. But most of the time I just went out to eat. So now that Tom is home I have dusted off the pots and pans, busted out the crock pot and have really taken a liking to cooking for Tom. I usually kick Tom out of the kitchen while I prepare whatever it may be. When we traveled to Idaho Falls two weeks ago we picked up two cookbooks from Barnes & Nobles which I have been digging through and along with Pinterest ( our dinners have been different every night. I have tried my hand at Cheddar Bay Biscuits, Biscuits & Gravy, Homemade Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Alfredo Lasagna, Onion Bleu Cheese Sauce, Cheese Balls, Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes, Banana Nut Bread, Chocolate Crumb Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookies and much more. Tom's favorites have been Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes, and it's a toss up between Banana Nut Bread and Chocolate Chip Cookies. I always try to cook from scratch, with extra help from products like Bisquick and such. That first bite Tom takes at dinner I always hold my breath. I am afraid he won't like it. I am afraid it would be a flop. Out of all the things I have made, the cheese balls have been the flop. But that's okay. Cooking is something I never thought I would enjoy so much for him. I once thought that we would do it together, but I like to make the masterpieces and kick him out. The grocery store has become a weekly destination and we have gone through more milk and flour than you could believe. During the adjustment period of Tom coming home it has made me realize that marriage takes effort and its the little things that count. While I enjoyed cooking when my dad owned his own restaurant it  seems so much more important to cook a good meal for my husband. Isn't that what wives should be, a chief in the kitchen, maid in the living room and a whore in the bedroom, right? Maybe not such a "maid" but you get what I mean. Chief in the kitchen is what I am going for. I want to be that wife where my husband is like, "My wife is a wonderful cook."

Love Blooms

Since Tom has been home he has really taken to "gardening." Not rows of vegetables, or with a sun hat and gloves on - just enough to spruce up the front of our apartment. Something I don't think I ever expected. I knew he always liked being outdoors and working with trees and such but I didn't think I would be able to get dirty in potting soil and pick out colorful flowers. Tom has been home for a month and we have planted over 12 plants in the front of the apartment windows, he has picked up two hanging plants, I hand-painted three pots and taken care of his very own tomato plant. Today Tom and I wandered through six greenhouses picking out "thrillers, fillers and spillers" for our two over sized pots. As we debated on colors and annuals versus perennials, I realized how our love has bloomed. Bloomed in the past month. Of course Tom and I loved one another before he left but while he was away its hard to have that "bloom." I mean the excitement, the one the lights up your eyes, that kind that you just sit back and say, "Damn, I am lucky." I did have those moments while Tom was in prison via phone calls or letters, but after all that, it is a completely different "bloom." I read a quote earlier today, "the couples that are meant to be are the ones who go though everything that is meant to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before." Which is so true. Whether he is gone for months, years - the emotions are all the same, the feelings are always the same - it is just at different times according to the situation. It is a time when you both sit back and appreciate one another. You realize what you really mean to one another and it is an amazing gratification. As a "strong prison wife" (I put quotes around it since Tom is home, and honestly has the potential to go back) it really is an "AHHHH" moment. It is the little things like planting flowers that gives you something to look forward to. Something you want to do together. The gardening has become a hobby of both of ours, we both can be proud of and something that we do together - which is something I love. Spending time with Tom is something I personally cherish, so I will happily take up a new hobby that encourages more time with my husband.

The after

Tom & Annette Lewis - 2012
It has just been 18 days since Tom was released on a what is considered a "pre-trial" release. I have to admit it is a lot more than I had anticipated, for the simple fact that you go from maybe a 20 percent to 100 percent. It is overwhelming. Not only did Tom come home but he came home as my husband. So we have had to re-adjust and not to just life together but as a married couple too. It has been an amazing experience. Living almost 15 months with my husband in prison seemed to be the hardest thing I would ever go through. It takes a strong woman to get up every morning and make things work while her husband (or boyfriend, anyone) is in prison. Now with Tom home, I realize that Tom being away was just a fraction of the strength it takes to be in a happy loving marriage. Marriage is hard, it takes effort and in the last 18 days it has taken a lot of effort getting used to one another it. I have been so used to being by myself and just doing whatever I needed to not to mention only 15 minutes of conversation with Tom and now being with one another every single day - is a lot. But it is worth it. I am well aware that there is much more to come for Tom and I. While we have been through a lot in the past 15 months we know there is much more to come in our "happily every after." Right now we are grateful that Tom is home and we are happy.

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