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A felon says good bye to his dog before being sent off to prison.
Convicted Felon Struggles with the Pain of Separation
Everyone I talk with who has been through this process says that this is the most difficult time, that in comparison prison is much, much easier. At least there, they say, a distant light magically appears through the bars and barbed wire.
I hope so.
It's the convict's version of the waiting game as sung so long ago by The Squeeze: I wasn't in the mood for laughing, I sat silent on my chair. In my version, I sit waiting for my life to end, waiting for my judgment to be read, waiting for my freedom to be taken. In my version, I sit up nights thinking thoughts of giving up my house, saying good bye to my children one last time, selling my car, donating my furniture to Goodwill. Then, with reference to The Crying Game, another fitting song, I cry myself to sleep.
One of my great comforts in this period as I sit home alone awaiting my fate has been my dog, Sorbet. So in a sense, this post is an ode to him. A good bye. A cry for forgiveness. I have failed this little guy. I only hope he will not suffer as a result.
Honestly, I was never a huge dog lover, inclined as I was in temperament more to the independence and wiliness of cats. But I agreed to adopt the already-named Sorbet from a local shelter at the persistent behest of my children on their stay with me last summer. He is a very cute but also very deaf little Dachshund, with blue eyes and mottled brown and white fur. I have taught him hand-signs which he struggles to obey and he keeps me company on my long days alone at home.
Most importantly and unlike almost everyone else I know, he does not judge me or my actions. Unlike many of the people that remain in my life, he does not cry when I come around or stare uncomfortably at the floor, unable to meet my gaze. He does not tiptoe on eggshells or look at me with sorrow or judgment. He does not shake his head sadly at a life gone wrong. Rather, he looks up at me with love and affection. He smiles (I would swear to that). In short, he is his usual little self: peeing on the rug, snuggling on my lap, craving attention, chewing on everything he can find.
That is what makes this next part of the waiting game so hard, why too often it becomes the crying game. The day will come very soon - it should have, in fact, come already - when I place an ad on Craigslist in search of a happy home for a cute little puppy unlucky enough to have a convicted felon for a master. Every evening I make a solemn vow to myself that the next morning I will do it. When morning finally arrives, I inevitably procrastinate.
I know that the days of procrastination are over. But I can't help it. It was hard enough to look my innocent children in the eye and tell them that I would be going off to prison. They did nothing to deserve this punishment of being deprived of their father. But at least with them I have the hope of infrequent visitation. With Sorbet, there will be nothing but a final good bye.
When I think of my situation I have trouble believing that it has come to this, that I am unable even to care for a little dog entrusted to my care. If I can't even care for my dog, than what hope do I have of taking care of my children, my family. So I procrastinate, grasping at this one last thread attaching me to my previous life, my life that is about to end.
So this in an ode to you, Sorbet, even though you won't understand a word of it. It's a cry of thanks, of gratitude. Through your devotion and love you have helped me through a difficult time. I only hope that your future is brighter than mine. That it does not include the bars of a cage.
Good bye, Sorbet. Be well.
Leigh Sprague, Contributing Writer: Leigh pled guilty to a felony in December and is currently awaiting sentencing. He is a former lawyer and is documenting his experiences on the "wrong" side of the criminal justice system at his blog, www.leighsprague.com. His memoir on his wrongdoing, Behind the Codeine Curtain, is being prepared for publication. More on Leigh: Leigh Sprague is many 'formers': a former journalist, a former Ivy-league educated international lawyer, a former scholar who organized conferences with... (more...)