by Samir (known by the FDOC as Roderick M. Orme)
To Whom It May Not Concern:
I very much wish I didn’t have cause to pen this letter, but life can be ugly sometimes and what matters is where you go from here. I’m not really sure if my voice will be of any comfort because few listen to the words of the condemned. Perhaps we both still have time to mend the shattered world we roam…6 feet by 8 feet a day.
I know for months and most likely years now, you have felt a numbness of disconnection. Every time you see your reflection in the mirror as you brush your teeth or wash away the cold sweat from another night of restless sleep, you see a distorted stranger looking back at you. It’s not the fun house mirror. It’s the battle of your conscience not being able to answer that nagging question of “how did I get here?!” I suggest you do your level best to answer this question, but not in one day and certainly not in the first days. This puzzle will slowly fall into place, as truth always presents itself if given time.
For now, try to place yourself in the moment. Going round and round with all those thoughts of “I wish…” and “if only….”, and seeking that one domino that started this awful chain reaction will not change where you are now. Those choices have already come and gone and you chose poorly. Also, worrying about the days yet to come is fruitless right this moment. First, you must accept where and who you are, for only then can you decide where and who you’ll be.
So brother, as they first lock you into this cage with that slamming steel door, try to just breathe. Don’t let the walls crush the last vestige of hope and sanity from your being. Be in the moment…close your eyes…and just breathe deeply. The air might be stale and musky, but the worst breath is better than no breath.
Once you’ve steadied your breathing, open your eyes and look around you. This is real. This isn’t a sleeping nightmare. Don’t imagine that every time you hear a guard enter the wing, he’s coming to tell you that you’re free and it’s all been a big mistake. If you’re innocent, pray that God, DNA, and sound evidence bring you freedom, as it does happen. Calm down and be patient. Never, ever give up but don’t give in to illusion either.
Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a serious psychosis like schizophrenia, stop taking all anti-depressants. Of course you’re depressed! But if you’re not careful, the state will pump chemicals into you to keep you quiet until the last chemicals come to you while you’re strapped to a gurney. Try to deal with the pain because feeling pain is better than feeling nothing.
Your first order of business is giving your mind an exercise in necessity and not futility. Get into the law. Lady Justice today is still blind, but these days she is blinded by overworked public defenders who often reek of booze and chewing gum, by career building prosecutors who use your misery as a stepping stone for political gain, and an over-burdened legal system that feeds on copious amounts of cash for justice. But you’re not blind! Even guilty people have been afforded by our founding father the right to seek redemption, penance (as in penitentiary) for our guilt and sins. Study the law and don’t be just another warehoused sheep. We truly have the best legal system in the world but it cannot help you if you don’t know it, so stop watching TV all day and pick up a law book. Don’t believe your innocence, or the fact that you’re a nice guy, holds the key to your freedom. They execute nice guys all the time, and cook a few innocents as well. This isn’t an episode of Law and Order, and CSI isn’t real life. Do your own work.
If your family and friends abandon you right away or slowly fade to black in time, bear no ill will. This crisis affects more than just you. At least two families have had the world snatched from under their feet. It’s not just you in pain. Be understanding and patient with them, for they too are having trouble breathing right now.
Finally, this place can either be a prison strictly of steel and stone or it can be a personal sanctuary, and even a monastery. Work on your strength, physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. The truth of God will reveal itself to you in time if you just seek truth. Chances are you came here in a sad state, either brought on by others or self-inflicted through abuse and addiction. Use this time to regain your humanity. Go back and find that innocent little boy you lost contact with so long ago. Take his hand and let him show you the way to happiness. He can teach you how to once again love yourself and hopefully, in time, forgive yourself for past mistakes and sins. Many will never grant you respite, but in the end, it is ultimately God and yourself that you need grace from. So love yourself fully, wholly acknowledging both your attributes and your flaws. This is the only way to truly pay tribute and respect to those you’ve wronged. Be a better person and when that final day comes, however it comes, you can let go with peace in your heart.
I hope these words have helped you, my brother. You can do it. Until we meet in the next life…
Roderick M. Orme #726848
Union Correctional Institution
7819 N.W. 228th Street
Raiford, FL 32026