This week I finally had the time to mail out photos to my cousin who is doing time in Folsom Women Prison (CDCR). She has been behind bars for over 3 years. One more year and she will be out!! During these past 3 years I never had the time to write her because I was either locked up or in my gambling addiction. I really understand how it feels to receive mail while in jail. Mail is one of the 3 ways we can communicate with our love ones while being locked up. You can get visits, make phone calls and receive mail. Mail is one of those gifts that keep you going. I can read the letter my family sent me and get that extra motivation. Many times I would read the letter and look through the photos I received to get my emotions on check. The best time was at night after shut down. I can glance through all the photos while the whole pod is quiet. That was the time when I would reflect and pray to some of the photos.Jail isn’t easy of course, but you have to find ways to keep your emotions and feelings on check. Looking through the photos was one way to. During my incarceration years, my mom would be the consistent person to send me photos. She would send me random photos of what she is doing and how the family is doing. This last incarceration I was receiving photos of Jericho. It was tough. I was getting updates of how Jericho was growing up from the photos my mom sent me. The mom of Jericho didn’t allow me to see Jericho through visits. She even said that I was not going to be in his life. A lot of emotions were going through me. I was only able to get progress from the photos my mom sent me. I wasn’t able to feel, touch, smell and talk to Jericho. I remember smiling and being joyful when I received a letter. We get “mail call” 6 days a week around 8pm. The deputy goes in the Pod and announces your name if you get a letter. Everyone becomes attentive and the whole Pod becomes silence. We all pray and become anxious that that moment. We all want our name to be called, but reality is only 5% of inmates get letters daily. Every time my name would be called, I would get butterflies because I knew it would be updates of Jericho. He was growing up so fast in front of me. Photos kept me updated.
And that is why I cherish taking photos. Photography has given me peace and to live in the present while I capture a photo. Photography has given me the chance to document and to keep memories. Without the photos my mom sent me, I would probably be going through a lot. The photos helped me feel like I was there spiritually for Jericho. I was not there physically, but mentally I can picture me holding him. I was able to dream about the future and picture myself hugging him. The photos gave me hope and made me feel like someone cared. A simple envelope full of photos went a long ways. If you know anyone behind bars, please write that person. Send some photos. Give some time to show you care. Being confined is not easy, and this simple act will allow that person to strive and stay strong.