I Need Hope…..

By Pat Bliss

Felix's most recent shot December 2013 Tomoka. Image Courtesy Pat Bliss
Felix’s most recent shot, December 2013, Tomoka.
Image Courtesy Pat Bliss

Before my leaving for Florida to be with Felix on Christmas day, I received a phone call saying, “I need help, I can’t get it together.” A letter came a couple days later. “I can’t seem to get a grasp of reality… why can’t I get out of here? Why can’t I get my life back?” Then, a little further he states,

“I had hope [at Polk CI]. Hope of one day getting out. I don’t have that here. All I see is hopelessness, despair, forgotten, deserted, alone. I can’t stand this feeling. I feel like I am at the end of my rope. Life has been really hard on me the last two years and I am giving up slowly…I just want to go home – please.”

In this same letter, he shared when he was a scared kid, when his parents sent him to live with his grandparents and he knew his parents were leaving him. He wrote,

“I am 52 years old but I feel like a scared kid all over again. All I want is a chance… I need help, I need hope, I need a real door, a goal. Something to tell myself ‘I am really going home’, if I can’t do that then it’s over, there is nothing left… I am scared, mom, I really am. I am scared for myself. Times have changed. I don’t belong here.”

With this on my mind I drove to FL and when I saw Felix come into the visiting room at Tomoka CI, he displayed his usual infectious smile and greeted me with a big hug, I said, we are going to have a real mother-son talk and tell me all what is going on in your heart and mind. And that he did! He got it all out – anger, unfairness, hopelessness on his case, frustrations. I, in turn, spoke plainly so I could be sure he understood what was going on. We started around 10 am and talked through our lunch and ice cream. By the time I left at 2:30 pm he felt good, and relieved to get it all off his chest.

However, the hope he was seeking hadn’t come yet. It wasn’t just hope for getting out, it was hope to have purpose. This is a need in everyone’s life.  The Bible states “without hope the people parish.” Why am I here? Doesn’t God care? Felix had said “Oh, I believe God can but He doesn’t see me” which broke my heart. Yes God sees him but He has a greater purpose for Felix that we don’t see.  In the meantime, while I was gone between Christmas and Family Day at Tomoka on January 3, 2014, hope came alive. The person responsible in the Horizon Character-Based Program dorm where Felix lives had Felix in mind to take over instructing the computer classes. Felix was told he was to graduate from the Character-Dorm program early, in order to enter the training class to be an instructor. Felix is that good.

The Faith Day event for all the inmates in the program was a huge success. I got to meet the other 4 deaf in the dorm and their families. Felix’s whole attitude had changed, he feels needed and has a goal each day. We visited Saturday and on Sunday I only stayed an hour as I needed to get on the road to Tallahassee. Our relationship had also changed, after having that talk Christmas day he realized I was not going anywhere. He could talk to me and be honest with his feelings. I could tell by the long hug and being able to say “I really love you, mom.”

I will write in another post about the advancement on his clemency action. These are doors Felix was referring to in his letters and when mentioned at our Christmas visit. Life is full of surprises. They are yet to come.

Pat

Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.

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