This is what I wrote on May 9th, the day I was released from the Bureau of Prisons. My stream of consciousness without much editing. I spent fifteen months in Federal Prison, four months in a Halfway House and two months in home detainment with a GPS ankle bracelet.
I can feel the chapter close behind me and the new one open. As clear as the sky. The second the bracelet was removed and handshakes and well wishes were exchanged. One door closed and another opened.
Leaving the halfway house I saw a piece of graffiti at the end of the bridge.
The universe has once again blessed me with a sign. I am so grateful.
I stop for a coffee and croissant. The first sip of coffee as I walk the street is different. It is delicious, the best sip of coffee I have ever had. I look around me. The sky is bluer, the clouds whiter and the tulips a brilliant orange and purple. The world is different.
I’m on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. I’ve dreamed of this moment. My first taste of freedom. With every dream I was near water. I wanted to see water. I needed to see water. I look forward to seeing the ocean again. Water touching the horizon. My desire to follow the water to its edge, knowing I could never reach it. The water calms me, it brings me peace.
Everything in my life has led to this point, to this moment. Everything going forward will lead to the next moment.
As I walked to the Promenade I thought back to the sentencing. I found myself no longer standing on the street, but transported back in time. Standing in the courtroom, the enormity of the room making me feel so small. Surrounded by loved ones, but alone in front of the judge. My life being altered to the point of being unrecognizable. Could this be happening? The trance I had put myself in for the previous years disappearing. Reality facing me head on. Uncertain, unkind and frightening.
I felt a gripping pain in my chest, my heart being squeezed by a gigantic hand. The sadness, the shame and the guilt all wrapping themselves around my heart. Constricting my breathing. The desperate agony for my wife and our life. What had I done?
I stopped walking. I took a breath. I said to myself,
“That is the past, it is over. Let it go.”
My body responded with compassion, the hand around my heart let go. My mind released the thought that moments ago was crushing me. The recurring thought that has haunted me for so long. My chest lightened, my mood improved. The sky was once again blue, the clouds the whitest of whites.
I am free.
None of what I did can be changed. I have no control over the future. I have this moment. And in this moment I am a free man capable of doing everything I dream of.
I walk now with the lessons learned, the clarity what’s important in life. Really important. I walk now with the courage to be vulnerable. I walk now a new man. Stronger, more confident. For everything I lost I gained twice in gratitude.
The lessons so valuable, I have no choice but to be the best man I can be. To ignore the lessons would be spitting in the face of those that I love, including myself. All of their and my suffering would be wasted. It would have been for nothing.
I burnt it all to the ground. And now I am emerging from the ashes.
A new chapter has begun.