The Felony Club

I have a friend whose child has gotten themself in a bit of a tangle; a tangle that involves felony charges

When that child who is an adult but still someone’s baby stands up in the courtroom, I will be there. I will be there to support my friend because I want to. I will also be there to show the judge that this child has a community that will stand up for, look out for, and love unconditionally.

That means a LOT when a judge is in the decision-making process.

There is a special club for parents of kids who are facing prison time for a felony. My son was looking at 16 years in prison for drunkenly smashing his car and three friends into a giant cottonwood. He was just a kid, albeit a dumb one. He fucked up, but he’s not a Fuck-Up.

People judged, we were shunned by friends. We were the talk of the town for quite some time. We were abandoned by many in our community.

A woman whose son was serving time for peddling child porn became my friend because she knows the stigma of being the parent of a kid that made REALLY bad choices. She never found fault with me. She never criticized my son.

She understood that no matter what, the felon before us is still someone’s child and that that child and his/her parent(s) are suffering mightily, hearts broken, feeling completely isolated and alone.

Living in terror of what might happen to their baby that they can no longer protect.

My son researched prisons in the state, preparing himself for Buena Vista (the worst) versus Canon City (one of the better state prisons.)

No parent should ever have to think about those options. No parent wants their child in one of those hellholes. Any reasonably sane parent would be terrified to think about their child behind bars for countless years.

When people judge the child, they judge the parent. When people judge the child and the parent, they tend to abandon the family when the family needs them the most.

It is horribly isolating.

We can judge our own children’s stupidity but no one else may because there is still a mom, or a dad, suffering to see their baby in danger that they can’t fix.

When we went to court, again and again, there was a posse of friends that showed up, sat next to us, held our hands, hugged my son, spoke to the judge, pled to not have his life ruined, held space for our fear and our pain.

These friends taught me about the defining lines between true friends and fair weather ones. These friends were there. Just having them sitting behind us in the courtroom made me feel like someone had our backs when the ground beneath our feet became quicksand.

Having people who could show up and love us, love my child, even when he had done something terrible, helped us survive the storm. It helped him stand up in front of the judge prepared for whatever sentence was handed down. He knew he wasn’t alone.

I knew that somehow, some way, I would survive if my boy was taken away in handcuffs.

If you haven’t had to stare that down, there is no way to understand the pain that I felt, that a mom, or a parent, feels when in the same impossible position.

I was blessed beyond imaginaton by the support and love that showed up when we needed it most. I will never ever take that for granted. I hope to never have my friendships tested like that again.

I really hope that we never, as a family, face anything that frightening and excruciating again.

But, I learned some lessons through it all.

*don’t judge

*that “bad guy” is someone’s child

*that parent loves their child as much as you love yours

*you show up for your friends. period.

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