Today is my sister's birthday. I am hoping she will call me soon so I can wish her a happy birthday and find out what kind of nice things her cellie and other inmates have done for her today. She is in prison.
When people talk about her - they usually refer to her in the past tense, "Today would be Angela's birthday" but she isn't dead. I have found however that being in prison to lots of people is like being dead. In their minds she has ceased to function as a person. I wonder what those people will do when she is released, if they will go on like nothing happened or if they will continue to not have contact with her.
I know it sounds strange but I have lost contact with people because my sister is in prison. Not because I decided to but because of the relationship I image, people associate one bad seed with the other. In the words of Donny Osmond, "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl" but I wonder what my reaction would have been had the tables been turned. Would I be as willing to maintain a connection with someone who had a bad seed or bad element in their family?
And there is also the truth that people are a little creeped out by people who commit crimes or people who have stepped outside the boundaries of societal normalcy. "You did WHAT???" Or "What Happened???" are the usual responses to a story like my sister's. I have to admit that it has taken me nearly 5 years to get my head around it and sometimes I still shake my head and find it unbelievable or unacceptable.
My sister received an outpouring of concern and support when she was first arrested, that concern and support has dwindled and now is a trickle - 2 letters a week from her sister to be exact. She does get a weekly visit from a wonderful lady in Salem as well as a monthly visit from a nice friend out in the Beaverton area.
Life goes on and people get busy. It is hard to remember someone who has been behind bars for nearly 5 years. It is hard to remember to wipe down the baseboards or dust and those things are right in front of our faces on a daily basis. I have a tendency to compulsively clean my house and I'm glad for it - because when dust or scrub the walls, I am reminded that I need to write to my sister.
Happy Birthday Angela!