Monday, June 15, 2009

An Epiphany

Many people act in fear. That's exactly what the pastor at Monty's church did when she asked him not to come to the coffee hour. Though he's essentially been clean since the ball really started rolling, she fears a relapse. Though people were never in any physical danger of him, she fears his presence puts them in danger. Other than allowing him to attend weekly service, she's otherwise turning her back on the one member of her congregation who probably needs her the most, and needs the outlet and the fellowship that church can provide. Last I heard, she was planning to make an announcement to the congregation on Sunday. Whether she did or not, and what it entailed, I do not know. Likely, it's going to ostracize Monty severely. This pastor is not a compassionate woman.

I mentioned earlier that religious leaders seem to have a tendency to push away those most in need of their help. I've seen this before, but don't have the mind to provide other examples. It shouldn't be this way. People count on their faith in troubled times. I've seen evidence (though I can't remember enough of any of it to site) that suggests people are more likely to go to church in times of crisis. Troubled times fill up those buildings more than any other. People go for solace, for peace, and for council. It looks rather awful when people are turned away. When a minister gives up on you, what do you have left?

I am an ordained minister. I'm ever in the process of furthering my studies and abilities in a spiritual leadership role. I honestly think that my continued support stems from this.

It would make me no better than any other if I walked away. Understandable, yes, but maybe not right. Monty has come to rely on me as one of his outlets. He needs the company and the friendship. I know it would be another blow to him if someone he depends on is no longer there for him. It's part of my duty, to extend that hand where others would not. It's not as hard as I thought it would be to not focus on the knowledge that I now have. Granted, I haven't seen him yet, our get-together is tomorrow. That may prove to be more of a challenge than I anticipate.

For now, I've found what is keeping me here. I've found what is allowing me to feel sympathy and compassion and to hope that healing will follow this ordeal. I think somewhere in there will be the strength to not judge and to not lash out and to focus on a person, still loved by his family and many of his friends, who needs a smile more than almost anything. It's not about me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Knowledge

I am supposed to visit Monty in a few days. He's hoping to get drunk, which I just won't do, but promised I can pretend pretty well.

Since reading that press release, knowing the extent of the crime, one thought repeatedly plays in my mind: my friend is a monster.

Earlier in the week, I was finding stores of sympathy. It surprised me, but it gave me the strength to support him as he needs (within my limits, of course). I've lost them.

Despite this truth, I'm reluctant to end my part in this. If I didn't know why I've been offering my support before, I really don't know why now. I said earlier I would be guiltless if I got new knowledge and decided to write him off then. This is proving to be inaccurate. I don't know why it is.

"Ignorance is bliss" has never been truer. I was happier not knowing. I mean, I knew, but I didn't know the magnitude of it. I found compassion in not knowing, mercy in the truth without the details. It's gone. Disgust is in its place. Disgust and anger and a deeper understanding for all of those people who already stepped away.

And still, I cannot join them.

The plight, now, has a new level of complexity. I know I will stay, and try to be supportive. I think I'm a hypocrit. I'm not hoping for the minimum sentence, nor am I wishing for the maximum. I find I'm not thinking about that at all. It's just a non-issue. No amount of time he serves will be enough, so he gets what he gets.

But, do I tell him that I read the press release? It might open discussion, which I honestly don't want to do. It may change how I behave around him. Simply knowing what I know may do that. On one hand, I'm glad I read it. If I do go to the sentencing in September, I won't be shocked if the judge details the charges. On the other hand, that makes September seem very far away.

I think I'm going to have to lie by omission to get through it. And I don't know if I can. And I don't know why I want to at all.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Monty goes to an Episcopalian Church. It's more for the opportunity to get out of the house without repercussions and to socialize with other people than it is to service his faith. He is a self-described atheist, after all, though I think agnostic is more accurate. The church he and his in-laws (and I think wife and kids too) attend holds a service on Sunday and then a "coffee hour," which is a chance to mingle with parishioners and clergy over coffee.

He called me in a very upset state. The new pastor, who has only been in her new position for about four days, has told him, disguised as asking, that he is not welcome at coffee hour. She hasn't barred him from service, but the social bit afterwards. There are a few factors working against him on this point. One is that she does not know him, being new to the church. The other is that the FBI issued a press release, which was naturally run in local papers, about him entering his guilty plea. More on that in a bit.

His wife is trying to vouch for him to the leaders of the church, and there may be others to speak for him as well. He is trying to not talk about his feelings on the matter to anyone, so the pastor won't get the idea that he's asking other people to do this for him. I understand why the new pastor did what she did, but I'm not very happy about it. I think religious leaders have a duty to help people, but everyone's instinct seems to be to push away those most in need of their guidance. I wonder if that's why many people have a problem with organized religion, but I digress.

The FBI issued a press release. Of course they did, it's a victory in their crime-fighting war when someone admits to serious wrong-doing. While I've been trying to keep my eye on public records about this case, it's only been a half-hearted attempt. I would not have known about the press-release if he hadn't told me when I asked how the pastor even knew since she was new. He said that he wasn't really trying to hide anything, but was not pleased at the press release (for other reasons I won't divulge). "It included details," he said.

After our conversation ended, curiosity got the better of me and I hit the Internet. I pulled up the article and went away without reading it. I didn't think about it. I put some laundry in the washing machine and chatted with my roommate. I didn't think about it. I didn't weigh what reading the article might do: that, while I know the gist of things, it would provide details that I didn't have but could have if I asked Monty to tell me. When I came back to my computer, still not thinking about these things, I read it.

I instantly wished I had not.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An Apology

Monty said he was sorry for the conversation we had the other day. He peppered it with excuses from being really stressed, which is completely understandable, to running out of his medication, which he just got replenished yesterday. I actually didn't speak with him, this was all in the voicemail he left me. He even admitted to making a lot of excuses for his behavior, but it boiled down to the things he said not being fair to me.

When I visited him earlier this year, one of our conversations was him longingly asking me why nothing had ever developed further between us. I told him in all honestly, and as gently as possible, that I have never been attracted to him. He is a wonderful friend, and I value him immensely as such, but I never thought of him beyond that. His wives thought otherwise, of course. If I wanted him, he would have been mine. This I know as fact, and our mutual friends have said as much.

Through the years, he would visit or pick me up at work for an evening out. I was constantly fielding the "is he your boyfriend" questions that always popped up, as often as I had to insightfully remind them that beauty is in the eye of the beholder when coworkers would comment that he was handsome. I confess I've never seen him as a handsome man, always just a good friend.

If I wanted him, he would have been mine. When I learned of his crime, this thought came to mind. Promptly followed by knowing that he would have committed his crime while in a relationship with, or married to, me. It affirmed that I always had made the right decision in not furthering our relationship beyond friendship (the fact that he doesn't do anything for me on that level notwithstanding). While I've never really gotten along with his current wife, I can't even begin to imagine the amount of betrayal she must be feeling. There are times when I feel it, and he is only my friend. As husband, lover, father of her children, she must be feeling much more anguish about this than I am. On one hand, I am sorry for her. On the other, I am thankful it is her in that place and not me.

He is right that that conversation was not fair to me. As much as he tried to explain it away, I know it was truth. He is facing an ending of one phase of his life. Just as any ending, he wants to clear whatever needs clearing. Maybe it was lack of meds and had something to do with the talk he had with his wife the previous day, but it was still truth. In my experience, lack of meds is more likely to loosen the tongue than it is to produce lies.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Monty worries about what he's teaching his kids, particularly the eldest who has a little more understanding of things because of his age.

He was surprised that the sentencing hearing is so late. He was expecting it to be maybe late August or early September, not late September. He's faced with a problem, a problem born from fear. If he keeps the hearing date that he has, it is likely that the prosecutor would be someone who is known to everyone who has had to deal with her as fire and brimstone. It is very likely that this individual would push fiercely for the maximum sentence. The final decision is on the judge, of course, but the opinions of the prosecutors do weigh in. If he can get his hearing moved up, he will get another prosecutor, one who may be more sympathetic and therefore press for a shorter sentence. Monty worries about what trying to get a shorter sentence teaches his kids.

It's hard to say, really. He is facing the music; I think it's natural to want to minimize the impact. On one hand, it looks like his plea bargain is delaying the inevitable. Along the same lines, it looks like trying to get as few years behind bars as possible is trying to get out of paying the full penalty for his crime. On the other hand, he is teaching his kids to face the consequences of their actions, and showing them there are many things to consider because many things, many people, are affected by his actions.

He said that everyone he has talked to about trying to move up the sentencing has agreed with that idea. He half-joked that it was because everyone wanted to be rid of him sooner. I told him it was because there was a chance for a lesser sentence, therefore the sooner he goes in, the sooner he comes back to us. He countered by saying he won't be around for my birthday if he gets an earlier hearing. We very likely wouldn't be able to get together for my birthday anyway, and he's forgotten to call on my birthdays before (though I didn't mention that) so it's no big deal to me if I don't hear from him that day. That sounds like a cold thing to say now that I've typed it out. But, really, for someone who appears to love me like he does, like he's implied but never said in so many words, to forget my birthday does leave me a little bitter. I also wasn't expecting him to be around for it this year anyway.

If he gets a new hearing date, maybe it will look like he doesn't want to put off his punishment any longer. If he's worried about what his kids will learn from that, it can only be that he's ready to do what must be done. That's not a bad thing to teach.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Difficult Topics

On the phone with Monty the other day, he started to tell me about a conversation he had with his (soon-to-be-ex) wife. He only told me a little of it, something about her insisting that she couldn't be married to him, but saying that she missed him. Then somewhere, he thought better of talking to me about it at all. He did say that he was not interested in trying for a relationship of any kind with any one right now. It's mostly a realistic view; he doesn't expect anyone to put their lives on hold while he is incarcerated.

I mentioned before that he had wanted more out of our friendship than I ever wanted or needed. I've always been reluctant to talk to him about my boyfriends or the men I might be dating out of respect for his feelings. I've always known that he considers me "the one that got away." I'm not sure how the conversation progressed into that topic, really. I'm not oblivious to the things around me; I've known that, through a handful of girlfriends, two wives, and a fiancé, he wished the other party was me. He told me there were times when he felt stupid for wishing that or, rather, for wishing that still. For years we have joked that we would marry each other if neither of us were married by the time we reached 40, so as to not be alone. Well, for me, it was a joke. For him, it was a sincere offer. "That I have no intention of taking off the table," he said.

The conversation ended with him telling me that I don't have to avoid talking to him about the important people in my life just because I don't want to hurt his feelings, even as he just finished saying that he has to hate any man in my life on principal. I won't hold that against him, I imagine it would be quite a lot of him trying to figure out what any beau of mine has that he lacks. Criminality aside, I couldn't define that if I wanted to.

He did say something that made me feel good about myself at the same time it made me feel uncomfortable. He said I was very hard to get over. For him, it would seem so, given that he hasn't been able to do it in at least ten years. Things look very different from my side, but that's a story for another time and place. I don't think this conversation changed how I will approach talking about the important people in my life to him. It really affirmed that I’ve been making the right decision in trying to avoid talking about my relationships wherever possible, and will continue to do so.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Searching

Last week, I had reason to go to a book store. I went armed with seven ISBNs of books that had potential to be what I have been trying to find. I scoured the most logical section, but was forced to look them up on the store computer. Every last one was either out of print (and one private seller listed a used copy of one for more money than I will ever spend on a book unless it is hand-written, hand-bound, and encrusted with jewels) or out of stock and available for a no-ETA order.

I don't want to order these books because I need to look at them. I need to know if they will actually help before I put forth the money to get them. And I won't be trying for some of those out-of-print books, particularly not the one that someone was trying to sell for $1 a page.

Yes, I know I just need to go to a library.

In my searching for potential books, I noticed something, a fact that makes these books that I can find un-appealing. Almost all of them, by descriptions and keywords, include something about religion, and they all implied Christian religion.

I think that religious faith is a very important thing. It is also a very personal thing. Reading a book where someone may say that their faith in their god got them through is not going to help me. I do not follow their god. That's not the kind of book I'm trying to find; I'm not looking for comfort from a book anyway.

The other side of that is I understand that people find strength in faith. There are words of religious wisdom that can give a person courage, comfort, or relief. Religious leaders often act as counselors. It's important to explore that outlet of support, but what is found there is not going to be the same for everyone.

I admit that I rarely turn to my faith for support. I can think of more than a few people who would use that fact to tell me my faith choices are incorrect if I can't rely on them when I need help. I'm not here to discuss theology, however; this is another matter altogether.

The kind of support that I'm really craving is from other human beings, and I am finding it in small measures here and there. The support I get from my faith is a lot like the support I get from writing this blog: an outlet, not an inlet.

As far as books, I'm looking for something more like a guide. Something that can tell me what visiting might be like, general dos and don'ts of care packages, what might be expected when the sentence is over. I'm looking for the kinds of things that can only be reported by someone with experience. It's more than dealing with feelings and emotions and needing help. There's a practical side too. I'm preparing to march into the unknown without such a guide, and that's ok. It has to be that way. Working through feelings and finding support is only one side of the help I want to find right now.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable about things. My recent conversations with Monty have been about everyday things. He still hasn't elaborated on his court appearance last week. He did say he hasn't been in therapy for a few weeks because of other things he had to do in preparation for last Monday. He said it was odd going back, it took almost the entire time to just tell the doctor what had been happening.

He told me of another old friend of his whom I also know. Monty's favorite way of describing him is "when you look at him, you think 'my god, Hobbits are real.'" It's a true statement!

I learned that Hobbit has also been immensely supportive of Monty and his situation. I can't even say how relieved I was to learn that. I always liked Hobbit, even though we had very few chances to interact. I always thought he was a fun, intelligent guy. The first time we met, he ran out of the house as soon as we pulled up, put a plastic crown of laurels on my head, gave me a scepter, and bowed. Apparently, Monty had so many good things to say about me to his friends that Hobbit was expecting to meet a goddess. I'm sure Monty's stories were quite exaggerated.

I was pleased to know that Hobbit is there for his friend. Pleased because I like Hobbit and don't want a reason for disliking his choices, and because I feel some of the burden is lifted from me. I know I'm one of the few people that Monty can turn to right now, but it's somehow comforting to me to know at least one of those other people. And, to know that it was someone who has known Monty for a long time, longer than I have. That is amazingly nice to know.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I've made a mistake somewhere. Not a mistake in action, but a mistake in lack of action.

I chose to come here, to write out my thoughts and feelings, to explore what's happening to me while things are happening to my friend. There's a funny little voice in the back of my mind that likes to tell me I'm going to write a book about this someday. A book for the family and friends of someone who is going to prison, to help them prepare, to help them work through their feelings. I'm going to write the sort of book that I was unable to find. Maybe, maybe not, that's not the point. It's just a funny little voice.

This does seem to be helping. When I have a new thought, I can come and write it out. I've posted something every day since I started, but it may not always be so. There are just enough thoughts to fill everyday so far. In two months, there may not be. In three, there may be enough for several times a day. In five, it may turn into just when I can write to or visit him. I don't know. I don't really want to think that Monty might be out of sight and out of mind after September.

In any event, posting here is not the mistake. It helps, I really feel it does. Over the past week, though, I've been feeling very alone. I feel like I have no one to talk to. A face to face conversation is very different than even the fairest group of faceless blog followers (and I do appreciate all of you who take even a moment to share this journey with me). I don't know anyone who has walked this path before me. I don't know if my friends would understand now.

It's a mistake of my own making, of course. And I've talked to a few people a little bit here and there. I've considered talking to others but haven't done so. Part of it is that everything about this is so complicated, it's hard to discuss. It's hard to talk about even when I have the ability to backspace. I'm not sure I could get anything even remotely coherent in speech. Another part is that I don't cry much, and if I do, I avoid doing so in front of others. But if I'm speaking, I'll be emotional, and I will cry. I've done so while typing just because it's impossible to not feel the weight of this as I'm writing about it. It's monumental that I'm even admitting to that. Thankfully, I've also recently had a cold that's in the lingering cough stage, so I can easily blame my phlegm. (It's ok to laugh or "eww," as you like.)

Admittedly, that's a silly reason to not talk to someone if I need to, but it is what it is.

It's all about support. I think I'm struggling to support Monty, because the situation has brought up so many conflicting feelings within me. I think that means I need support from somewhere too. I don't want to expect that from Monty, he has enough to worry about and I don't know if it would really be beneficial to either of us if we are who each of us turn to. My side of things is very different than his as it is. I need something else, something outside. That's why I came here, even if it's proving to not quite be enough.

Eventually, I'm going to break, and I'm going to need someone.

On that note, and not as a substitute for the conversation I'm eventually going to need more than I need it now, if you, gentle readers, feel compelled to comment, feel free to do so (I won't be offended if it's anonymous). If I don't like what you have to say, I don't have to publish it. Ha! (I'm kidding there, kind of.)

This came about rather suddenly, really. It was earlier last week, when I was thinking about going to the sentencing in September and the going away party (which will be about the same time). I found myself wishing there was someone who would come with me, which made me realize it'd be nice to have a confidant too.

I know several of you are probably wondering why I don't just ask someone, even given my aforementioned reasons. Another is that I don't feel it's entirely right to burden someone else with helping me with my issues. Everyone I know has many things on their respective plates. Everyone has their own things to deal with. It wouldn't be right to trouble them with me.

It's a little like something that was said during my CIA interview a couple years ago. They were talking about if we got a job that required a cover. They said we would have to be very careful about who we told, because those people would have to keep our secret and our cover too. They said that not everyone would be up for it and told stories of more than a few agents who broke cover with someone they cared about, and that someone experienced much agony over wishing they were not part of the secret. It would be wrong of us to force that burden on them, to make that decision for them. I don't know if any of my friends would be willing to share that burden with me, and it would be wrong of me to choose for them and find I was wrong in my choice.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

That Feeling

It's a feeling of being trapped. I want to do what's right, but I'm not clear on what that is. I should be, and sometimes I am, but mostly, I'm not.

Right now, I know it is the right thing to stay by my friend. I recognize that he needs a friend he can count on. I see that those people are few for him now. Right now, I think it's right. I think I would be wrong if I abandoned him now, not without some new information, some reason, to do so. If I just did it, it would not be right.

But, there are times when I think it might be wrong to show my friend I support him. This very moment is not one of those times, so it's hard to elaborate on that now. There are times when I feel like I shouldn't still be his friend, because he did do something wrong, something awful, and he deserves to pay the penalty for that. It would not be unreasonable if part of that penalty was losing my trust. It didn't happen that way.

I have no intention of leaving my friend to deal with this turn of his life on his own, even though I'm facing feelings of guilt in either direction. Sometimes, I feel guilty of not caring about the victims, and I show I don't care by not severing ties with my friend. But I do care, I care more than many people would, even more than the people who don't consider Monty a friend anymore for what he did. But, if I stepped away now, I'd feel guilty about abandoning Monty when he needed me and the comfort that our friendship provides. I couldn't do that to him now.

The truth, really, is that I can't do right by everyone. I can only do my best. It is impossible to please everyone. At this point, it means more to stand by my friend. It doesn't take away my feelings of guilt for not standing by the innocent strangers, but it is what makes me want to help my friend through this time. My friendship is not bestowed lightly. That is what I can hold on to, that's where my obligations are.

It wouldn't be a paradox if it was a simple thing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Presence of Guilt

I've come to a realization. The conflicted and complex feelings I have about the matter that I discussed earler are stirring in me feelings of guilt.

I mentioned that I would be guiltless if I cut Monty from my life. I would be. Many people would consider his crime unforgivable. If I clung to that, I would have no remorse for removing myself from the situation.

It is not removing myself that is causing guilt.

Logically, there's no reason for it. I committed no crime. Usually, standing by one's friends is a favorable action. But doing it is making me guilty. Sometimes I feel I shouldn't be doing it. I should join the ranks of those who say it is unforgivable. It might make the people who were hurt, who are not involved in any of this anymore, feel better. Is a victim comforted by knowing that others stand with them and not with the offender?

It's a false sense of reparation, I know this. Good people can forgive something otherwise unforgivable. Maybe these people are good people and forgive where others may not. I don't know. I'll never know. If they are, I'm further doing them a disservice by not forgiving. But, if they're not the forgiving sort, my disservice is that I am.

I know full well that I'm putting a lot of focus on the victims. I can relate to them. And I love my fellow people, even when I think many of them are idiots, so I can't not think about them. They are nameless, faceless, to me. They always will be. But they are real.

The guilt that I feel stems from feeling like I owe them. Why do I feel that way? Why do I feel I owe these nameless, faceless victims who don't know Monty and will never know me?

I understand this fact is probably very hard to understand, dear readers. How can a serious crime be committed against someone who was never face to face with the offender and does not even know who is involved? I cannot clarify this, but it is true, it is the way it is.

I wonder if it would be better if I could face them, if I could tell them I was sorry for them, that I understood their pain probably better than anyone. Would they be able to understand why I stand by my friend despite his faults? Then there's the paradox that I'm not even sure why I do.

There's more to it now. If I decided to have nothing further to do with Monty when all of this began, I would be guiltless. If he gave me more details that changed my perception of the reality of the situation, causing me to cut ties with him and move on, I would be guiltless. If I just did it now, if I just changed my mind, I would not be guiltless. There's guilt wherever I turn.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Gift

Monty and I enjoy scary movies. Scary monster movies, (some) slasher movies, alien invader movies, zombie apocalypse movies, dark entities possessing people movies, devil children thrown into wells movies. Actually, that one has a scary story all its own.

Somewhat early on in our movies madness, we decided that we need a house. A certain kind of house, that is fortified against attack and provisioned and all of that. But, this house also has a special switch. It was a switch (which evolved into a voice command as well as an actual switch) that would turn on every light in the house, everywhere. The only exception is under one bed, so the cats have a place to hide because they like dark places. Otherwise, when the switch is activated, there are no dark places anywhere.

This dream house stems from our movie hobby, and one innocent-like child proclaiming "they mostly come out at night...mostly." We're ok with things going bump in the night, you see, but we're not going to let them mess with our days! So, the switch creates day by turning on all the lights. Get it?

Only a couple years into the life of his first son, Monty had a dream about this house. He relayed that dream to me and I asked if he would let me write a story based on it. He agreed. That was years ago. Like, seven or so.

I kept it on the back burner, constantly in the "one day, I will get to this" category of things to do. I don't know what clicked that made me actually do it, but I finished that story last month. For Monty's birthday present, I hand-wrote it in a journal with an apropos cover. I decided to mail it to him. It was after his birthday (he knew it would be a late gift because I was still working on it) and I wanted him to have it before I saw him next, because if I handed it to him when I saw him next, I'd want him to read it, and he'd likely put it down for later.

He called me on Saturday, though I didn't get a chance to speak with him, to say it had arrived, that he had read it twice, and that "it is among the best presents I've ever gotten." We did get to talk on Sunday. We discussed the story, the details that I added, the details of his dream that he had forgotten, and the understory - the things that were not stated and not even expressly implied, but somehow were known. He repeated that he had already read through it several times in the twenty-four hours it had been in his possession and told me he had parts memorized. It made me feel good, particularly when he told me it was clearly a labor of love. That's really what it was.

He said he wanted to find a way to bring it with him. They may not allow it, but he wants to find a way. I don't know if that's why I needed to finish the story now, before he goes. Maybe a part of me was hoping that our crazy little dream would help him through. Maybe it will. If they don't allow the journal (I'd almost be afraid something would happen to it) maybe I'll be able to send him a print out.

I was only slightly worried about this gift. You probably have experienced, gentle blog readers, how you can work hard on something, for someone, and find it unappreciated or underappreciated. I worried that he may not be as pleased with it as I was. Or, maybe it would not be as special as I was trying to make it. I had no reason to fear, really. It's essentially one big inside joke, and I'm glad we have it. This is very likely the last special, thoughtful birthday present that I will be able to give him until he's back in the free air. I'm glad I was able to share that with my friend.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Plea

Monty went to the courthouse on Monday to officially enter his guilty plea. He told me little about it, saying that exactly what it means was still sinking in. What it means is that the barred cell is imminent.

He did say that his lawyer made sure it was on record that he completely complied with the conditions of his earlier arrangement: keeping his doctor appointments, staying in the house at all other times, that kind of thing.

His sentencing date is September 25th. As far as I know, that's the day when he will learn how long he will be in prison, to which facility he will go, and when it will begin. The beginning may very well be that day. He's asked me to be there.

I want to be there for him. His last act before becoming a convicted felon will be walking into that courthouse. It won't be a trial, the act of officially entering his guilty plea on Monday waves his right to a trial by jury. This means I'm not going to hear the evidence against him, I'm not going to get any of the details that I'm currently lacking. I'm perfectly fine with this. Besides, he already told me he would answer if I asked. I will likely hear the specific charges that were brought against him, just as a matter of course for the record, as well as the important part - how long he will be gone.

I have already requested and been granted that day off of work. I will be there. This is part of my not knowing what to expect, but I will learn.

There are moments when September, about four months from now, seems pretty far away. There are moments when it seems like no time at all. The reality, that four months left reality, hasn't quite sunk in. When I talked to Monty on the phone, he said it hadn't yet done so for him either. It's hard to say when it will, if it will ever.

Monty also wants to have a going away party. I may not be able to attend that, depending on when it is. He told me the house will be full of people I don't know and some I don't entirely get along with (i.e. ex-wife number 2). He knows I don't like crowds very much. In this instance, I really don't. Maybe I'm being selfish, knowing that the time that we do have to spend together watching scary movies and trading unbelievably rotten puns is very limited. I just feel like I show him support better when I'm not just another one of the crowd. Of course, he's not sure exactly how much of a crowd it will be, depending on who will actually come. I told him I couldn't promise the entirety of the party, but I would do my best to be there. I will try.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Quandary

I fear the complexity of my feelings on the matter cannot be conveyed accurately. Every time I settle to think about it and where I am, I end up all over with no coherent thoughts. This conflict is important to explore, however, as I think it is important for anyone in a situation like mine, torn between deep senses of loyalty and justice. And, it is one of the main reasons why I started writing here. I will try to clarify an otherwise impossibly complex jumble of thoughts and emotions.

There are many sides to this. I will start with two, the two main ones. More will come up, this I can promise.

The first face of this is my friendship with a man I have known for more than a decade. He was always there when I needed him. He would pay for our outings if I couldn't, he would pick me up and do the driving if I had no ride, he sometimes would not take no for an answer. Even if he did something to upset me and I would distance myself from him, he would always make contact again. Our friendship was something that was important to him. I could tell, because he worked on it even when I was too busy for it. He came over one day to bury my dead fish when I couldn't bring myself to do it. You may know the joke "friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies." It was a fish body, but he did, and he didn't hold that silliness against me. He helped me move too, the only one of my friends who did. He made the time to do so.

I think I only recently realized just how good of a friend he is. Maybe it came to light in the possibility of actually losing that, as there is no telling what being in prison will do to him.

He was always there with his advice and expertise, like when I tried (and failed) to buy a home. He's been helping me as I got my ducks in a row to open my Etsy store. He's an intelligent guy with a good business sense and a mind for math and finance that I've never seen matched. And, I have known him to always be willing to help, if it was with mindless movie entertainment or knowledgeable advice, or even to offer an opinion where there was no expertise. There were times when he let me down, but he always was my friend.

Enter the crime. I've described it as horrid. That's not an accurate enough word, I'm not sure there is one. It could have been worse, that's true, but what he did was pretty bad. It's not a felony for idle reasons.

It has caused other people to remove him from their lives. It hurt innocent people, not directly by him, but they were hurt nonetheless. And these victims, no one deserves to be hurt that way. Ever. I am strong and certain in my opinion of this. If this conviction caused me to remove him from my life as others have done, I would be guiltless about it.

But I can't. I think of him as my friend, still. Even under house arrest, he is still the dependable, reliable friend that he has always been to me. His crime did not directly hurt me, or anyone I know. It didn't directly hurt anyone, really, though people were hurt in the process of it and as a result of it.

Here is the main face of the problem. I honor my friend by remembering and holding on to the part of him that he always presented to me. Reliable. Dependable. Friend. But, in doing so, am I dishonoring the people who were hurt? Am I ignoring that there were victims in all of this, and their pain is real, and likely still going on though my friend is out of the picture now? Justice is in the fiber of my being, and yet here I am, conflicted between duty to my friend and amazing sympathy for people who I have never met, who my friend has never met, who were wronged.

Does my friend deserve this compassion, this loyalty, from me? Don't the victims, too, deserve some kind of acknowledgment, some kind of recompense for what they suffered? Does it make me a bad person for not offering that? Even though they will never know, I will.

I have been a victim myself, on a similar level. The level that I hint at that would make his crime worse if that is what he had done, in fact. It is personal to me. He didn't cross that line, I know this, but if he did, it would be as if he had done it to me. Someone did once. I can't help but feel a kind of kinship to the unnamed people who were hurt. There were no amends for me then. These people deserve what I didn't get. Of that mind, too, I am strong and certain.

I don't know if I am right in staying by my friend or if I am further wronging those who were wronged by doing so. That is the discordance within me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The End Game

A week ago yesterday, Monty turned 30. Sometime this morning, he went or will go to the court house to officially enter his plea. The one that will start the end, that will trade the cuff around his ankle for a barred, barren, shit-smelling room. It will surround him not with understanding in-laws and the occasional visits from the friends who remain, but with other criminals who will test him, try to intimidate him, or worse.

It will be the beginning of the end. Even so, he's still not expecting to actually go to prison until September or October. When he told me that it was time to enter his plea, he told me he was frightened. Of course, who wouldn't be. Truly, no amount of preparing can really prepare someone for this prospect, to go from being an accused felon (albeit, a guilty one) to a convicted one.

I don't really know if I had any comfort for him. I told him he had done all he could to prepare, there was nothing more to do. Worrying about it won't help either. This flood will come with or without it. He did all he could. He made his plan, he's ready to learn the hierarchy of the environment he will be in, he's counting on people on the outside to help him as they will. There are still those of us who want him to come out in a decade or so mostly intact.

He told me that day that he appreciated that he was able to speak with me candidly about this. He said he sometimes worried about how much he could tell me, and that he's trying to expect little of me once he is there, so he won't be a burden on me. While I've never been to jail, someone told me once that a holding cell smelled like an ass. I relayed this to Monty, who laughed. In laughter, I repeated, my informant said it was like crawling into an anal sphincter. We supposed the nose will adjust to it eventually. As serious as the topic of going to jail is, and as nauseating as the prospect of its smell is, it still lightened the conversation a little. It told him that his candor was equally appreciated.

It was during that conversation when I realized that I do want to help see him through this time in his life. I am willing to write a letter of character to the judge. I am willing to send him care packages, books, and letters. Depending on the logistics of where he is sent, I am even willing to visit. This last bit surprised even me. It was also this conversation that prompted me to look for books, like the one he has to help him prepare, and found nothing. I'm not used to finding nothing, I can find anything if it's out there to be found. By the way, gentle blog readers, if you know of such a book, that was written to help someone deal with and prepare for a family member or friend going to prison, please let me know. All of this will be a learn-as-I-go kind of thing, otherwise.

But, if I do visit him, I'll be able to relate first-hand if the place really does smell like an ass.