Prison or the grave

We (me, the hubby, my son & my niece) are going to see my brother tomorrow. He is currently serving his last 18 months of a 10 year sentence in a minimum security federal prison.

“He was naughty, and is in timeout.”

This is how we explain to the little ones in the family where he is and why we have to go through the process that we do to get in. I’m not sure if it is good or bad. It is just the easiest way to explain it in terms that they will understand.

I think I visit the most out of those in my family. Which makes me sad for him because we have an 8 year age gap and we’re not all that close. I know that he is happy to have visitors and to see his family, especially his nephew, but I know he would really love to see some of our other famiy and his friends too. It’s hard for people. I get that. His friends always tell me that they need to get over there and see him. But only a few do.

I go though. A few times a year. I go enough that the check in guard remembers me. (kinda weird to be recognized by a prison guard)

I go. Even if it is heart wrenching to see him locked up knowing that he is missing everything that has been happening in our lives. Including my wedding. The birth of a nephew and what will be three nieces. The death of our Grandfather. Everything from the little everyday things to the major life changers. He misses all of it.

I worry that once he does get out, he won’t be able to stay out. I worry that there are people in his life that haven’t changed and don’t want to see him change because everyone knows him as the “life of the party”. I worry that he wont be able to overcome that. I worry that his friends wont know how to be around him with out including that “life”. I worry that he wont realise that that shit doesn’t matter. I worry that he hasn’t grown up. That he is still the guy in his mid twenties that was livin’ it up with no cares or responsibilities.

He says he has. He says that he is ready. That he is going to get his life straightened out. Ready to settle down. Ready to have a family. Ready to be a productive citizen again.

But I don’t know. I would like to believe him. I’d like to think that he has changed. I’d like to think that he is ready to put his family and his life before drugs and a quick buck. But I don’t know.

I don’t want to get my hopes up. I know that no one else does either. We don’t want to get hurt again. Maybe that’s why it is so hard for some to see him. He is the eternal optimist. He is the person that can light up the room by walking in. Everyone loves him. He is everyone’s friend/buddy/big brother. It is hard not to believe him when he tells you something. That is one of the many reasons things got as bad as they did.

I know that he had reached a point where it was going to be prison or the grave. I’m just glad it wasn’t the later. He still has a chance. A chance to be a big brother again. An uncle. A son. A chance I’m scared to hold any hope for.