Sunday, March 10, 2019

Gravity and Growing Pains... By Rory Andes

"...I needed the gravity of this time to match the gravity of what I did. I believe in justice..."

I had a conversation with a guy named Kyle last week at work. I have had plenty of discussions with him, we're friends, but this one moved me. It compelled me. It broke my heart and for the few minutes we talked, I saw a level of humility that caught me off guard. Perhaps some background... This man is a giant. At 6' 5" and 265 pounds, he is one of the biggest guys in this prison. He's an avid weight lifter who holds a few titles and at first sight, you might mistake him for a stereotypical convict. The best thing about a man of this size is that it takes that much bulk to house his colossal personality, his great sense of humor and the outright decency that comes with him.

Everyone who talks with Kyle likes him. But that wasn't always the case for him, I'm sure. When Kyle was 19, he murdered a man by severing his throat. He created the eleven inch wound with a fillet knife, nearly decapitating him, all for reasons not worth both of their lives. After pleading to dodge the death penalty, he accept an exceptional sentence of 65 years. He spent the first fifteen or so years of his sentence involved in all the wrong things. Prison gangs, drugs, racial prison politics, the convict code and self destruction... Massive amounts of self destruction. Becoming his own worst enemy made him an enemy to so many others. Along the way, however, reality and morality started to sink in about a better way and a better Kyle. Here's where our conversation comes in...

This year starts his thirtieth year in prison and our conversation was a brief reflection on how he feels about his conviction and his life. Its changed him in many ways and he's learned a lot about healthy living, growing up and now, at 50, growing old. He's happily married to a woman he adores and he has a role in our little community as mentor, pro-social advocate, friend, life coach, fitness guru and civics teacher. But with his growth into this amazing man, comes the pains of what brought him here in the first place. He addresses his victim by name. He empathetic ally told me that "Victor and his family never deserved that". Kyle is a conservative who grew to embrace his values and his faith and he speaks about how necessary these thirty years have been for his growth as a person. He stresses that the gravity of his crime robbed Victor of the same opportunity. The gravity...

As we talked about how inmates learn life's lessons, he spoke about how he learned the lesson of how wrong he was years ago, but the years spent here were necessary. Necessary. Not because he needed more of a lesson, but because Victor and his family needed this from him. The pound of flesh. His time. Growth. His losses. Justice. Justice is as important to him as rehabilitation. It makes things fair. Kyle lost his mom a few years ago and he knows his dad hasn't much time left. He will leave prison sometime in the 2030's, well past his father's expiration date. And this thirty years was required to know just how humbled he needed to be. As Kyle explained how he needs the gravity of this time and this loss for him to match Victor's family's loss to grow as a person, he did so with eyes watering. Not for his own outcome, but for two lives lost. For Victor's family. For the growth he took from another person. For reasons not worth killing for. He's been humbled and enlightened. And he has growing pains...

Kyle expressed that he doesn't like that he will spend more than another decade in here. He knows that the life with his wife will be limited when they finally unite. For all intent and purposes, she lives a life without him but she is close to his family. Neither of them are getting any younger and he has accepted that. He's worried about his wife, her health and what might be left for him by the time he leaves. The gravity of what he's done to make his and Victor's lives have this tragic outcome is tempered by the growth of his realizations, the rehabilitation he's fostered within himself and others, and the rebirth of his values. He firmly believes in justice and to sit in that moment with him in that conversation was an experience that needed to be felt as well as heard. Listening to him describe his growing pains in that moment was moving and insightful. I can't thank him enough for the reality of it...

By Rory Andes

email me at Jpay,com using Rory Andes # 367649

or write me at

Rory Andes # 367649
PO Box 888
Monroe WA  98272

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