The "Prison Wife" is the forgotten one, as she waits at home for her husband. Our society takes care of the sick, the dying, the homeless, but the prisoner's wife is alone and forgotten.
When everything first "happens" after the court sentencing - the phone buzzes constantly, and there are e-mails and text messages - and then, everyone goes on with their lives - and the wife of an inmate finds silence on a daily basis. It was the same way after the incident of September 2008 - so this time after the hearing on February 15, 2011, I knew it was coming again - that silence.
A "prison wife" is faced with insurmountable problems; financial, emotional, psychological, social, stigmatization, health problems to face alone. She keeps the household "together" until her husband comes home. She pays the bills, pays the rent, the car payments, insurance and hopes there is enough left for other things.
She has to ask others for help around the house, and just about everything else under the sun. There are things the landlord is not responsible for. Finances are tight, so she has to ask friends/family to come and help. It's not "just around the corner" when I need someone to help me. It's an hour drive out and back, plus the time someone must take out of their day to help me.
A "prison wife" even has to tie up the loose ends with the court system, that paper that says he's convicted is important. She also has to claim her husband's personal items from the jail. Then the devastating day comes when she has to go to the Sheriff's Office to claim the "evidence" that was seized that night. It brings the event straight back almost as if it was being lived again.
When they pulled that laptop out of the evidence bag, I thought I would throw up or faint. Item by item, Pat's watch, his eyeglasses, a coin that he carried that my ex-husband gave him, the underwear and summer shorts he was wearing that they cut off of him. Of course all of this stuff was in evidence bags that also contained shell casings and bullet fragments which spilled out on the floor.
And as holidays and birthdays come and go, the "prison wife" is alone and lonely, most often faced with depression. Certainly family say "come and be with us" - but it is hard to celebrate anything or be around anyone on those days which used to be such special family times - because there is someone missing.
Sometimes it is difficult to even face another day. The "prison wife" lives in hiding because she is afraid of what people will think, and she doesn't want the neighbors to find out or know who she is.
When her husband goes to prison, the wife goes through a period of "grieving." She goes through the same "grieving process" that a widow goes through. The only difference is that the widow can eventually move on, while the prison wife cannot. She waits..............
The Prison Wife is a "wife," without a husband.
It is difficult to make new friends. It is hard to go out and socialize. People ask questions when they see your wedding rings; what does your husband do; where is your husband. It is not easy to explain that your husband is in prison. It is even more difficult to try to explain how he got to prison - because the American public hold law enforcement above even our combat Veterans. If you "shoot a cop" - you're going to prison, they don't care what the details are.
Then if you do attempt to go out, there is the fear people might view you as being "unfaithful". On an internet 'comment' section on one of the articles about Pat's case someone posted that the source of this problem was an unfaithful wife. I can only assume that someone recognized me and saw me with one of two of Pat's friends (male) that had come out to see him. After we visited him, we went out to a public place before the friend left town. Or perhaps they may have seen me with my ex-husband who is one of Pat's very good friends. Many of you know they have known each other longer than I have known Pat.
It hurts to think people would believe I would be unfaithful to Pat.
After a certain amount of time (months or even years), it is acceptable in our society for a widow to step out, and start dating and even re-marry. The Prison Wife who is faithful and dedicated to her husband does not have this option....some women wait years for their man to return...10, even 20 or more years.
Two years ago in June 2009, approximately 2,297,400 were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails............ that makes me wonder just how many wives and loved ones are left behind and forgotten. We think about the prisoner, but never, ever, think about those left behind.....the wives, the children, the mothers, the fathers, to name a few.
Those loved ones, did not commit a crime, except the crime of loving a "criminal." They did not commit a crime, and yet they are punished.
Of course I have been declared "guilty" and have been blamed by many as being responsible for what happened on September 19, 2008. It is extremely sad when there are people in the family that are the ones BLAMING ME.
When husbands go to prison, wives don't get notified by the prison system where their husband is. I researched and found out on the internet where Pat was. Nobody in the "system" told me I could do that - I had to figure it out on my own. I believe there should be some family notification system in this country. Usually the wife must sit and wait until her husband is able to place a call to her. Those days of silence were agonizing.
As I sit and think of Pat, I get this picture of him sitting in a cell, in a facility with razor wire fences surrounding the facility and I know he is being treated like a "criminal". I know my husband is not a criminal. The "justice" system failed him. He should be in treatment somewhere now after sitting in a county jail for 2-1/2 years - he shouldn't be sitting in prison. We should be putting our lives back together.
But I am a "prison wife" - and so I sit and wait.