Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Very Alone

Monty's mother in law has been e-mailing the group of us updates as she and her daughter gets them about where Monty is, how we can write to him, how to set up a phone account so he can call (that didn't work for me, I'll have to do my own research on it) and about getting together to visit him. The lovely lady who sat next to me in the courtroom, who I'm going to call Kelly here, has been sending me text messages every now and then.

Truth be told, I still feel very alone. I'm grateful for the messages and the updates and they really do help, but it feels like that's all the support I'm getting.

I'm not really expecting more, though.

Honestly, who can help me with this? Who can watch me go blind with tears and blubber uncontrollably and really hope to help? Who, if not one of those who really knows what this feels like, can actually do anything?

That being said, I'm also grateful to have the condo to myself right now, so my roommates didn't question when I stumbled to the bathroom, choking on sobs, to find the tissue box while trying to write a blog post.

This ended up much shorter than I originally intended, but I can't see anything anymore right now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Will Never Do That Again

Take heed now, all my family and friends and even friends yet to be: don't break the law. I can't sit through another hearing. I can't be there for you if you do.

The morning started like a regular morning, except that it was Friday and I wasn't going to work, I woke up an hour later than normal, and I was at my parents' house. Dad was out of town and Mom had already left for work. I woke, chose a simple linen dress, ate a waffle, and headed off to Monty's. I left a little later than I wanted, but still with plenty of time to get there. His hearing was to start at 0900, and he had promised me coffee.

I met two of his friends: awesome ladies both. We joked over our coffee like it was a normal day. We prevented him from putting the bright orange shoelaces his eldest son had bought for him in his dress shoes. I made him give me the book I had made for his birthday, for safe keeping, just in case.

We took two cars to the courthouse, where the six of us met five other people who were already there. His lawyer made it a point to tell the judge, and us, that she's never before worked such a case where so many people came out to support the defendant, not only in the amount of letters that were sent to the judge, but in the people in the courtroom too. Eleven doesn't seem like a large number. I guess many people find themselves very alone in such a situation.

I'm not really sure of the dynamic of their relationship, but one of the ladies I met at the house that morning seemed to be very close to him. Monty had only mentioned her a few times in the last few weeks. She sat next to me, and took my hand as we took our seats after the judge came in.

I have never said that Monty didn't deserve to be punished. I have never said that his crime wasn't horrid and deplorable. But, still, he is my friend and has always been a good person to me. One of the arguments that his lawyer made was that he had made remarkable progress, in growing as a person, healing, and repenting, in the two and a half years that this has been building.

It didn't matter.

None of it did. Progress under therapy and medication didn't matter. Changes that his loved ones saw in him didn't matter. The judge only saw what was horrid and deplorable. It didn't matter that it was only one side of him, a side that was subdued under medical care. Nothing else mattered.

The lawyer argued heavily for the minimum sentence of five years, that he wasn't a threat to anyone anymore and could be granted a few weeks to get his affairs in order, that the sentencing guidelines set forth by Congress didn't apply in this case. The judge agreed that they didn't, but said that five years wasn't enough, and so decreed 121 months. Ten years. He disregarded the statements of Monty's doctors and decided to offer his own diagnosis. He said there were medical issues yet unknown and that did make Monty a threat, even though there has been no prior criminal history and no criminal behavior for the two and a half years since the FBI first raided his home. Those ten years began right away.

I don't think I shall ever forget how hard it was to force my tears to vanish, so I could smile my support and wave when he looked back before they took him away.

The whole thing took two hours. Somehow, it felt like 20 minutes, at the same time that it felt like half a day. There is nothing to compare with listening to some stranger talk only of a friend's bad qualities when you know there are good ones too. It was among the most painful things I've ever had to endure. That's why I won't do it again.

In that moment that felt like it was too short and too long, all of my questions, doubts, and struggles of the previous months meant nothing. At the end of that two hour moment, they took my friend away, allowing us, his family and friends, nothing more than a glance.

The lawyer spoke with us for a time. She mentioned that someone had personal items that were seized from Monty and his wife's home for evidence. "They'll give it all back," the lawyer said. "Except my boy," his mother replied.

After that, we went to a diner to try to shake off the stress of the morning. Some of us had large meals, some of us had coffee, some of us had lavish milkshakes. We spoke of other things, because we had no information and it wouldn't help anyone to deal with what we had witnessed if we just moped about it. Some lady came up to us on her way to the restroom and commented that it looked like we were having fun and she wanted to join our table. We stared. Then one of our party said we must be in the company of good actors; more than half the table raised their hands in confirmation.

Unlike most of the others in the group, I wanted to be alone. I have known him longer than more than half of them. I didn't feel like a part of them. I didn't really want to be around anyone. I had made plans that evening and I kept them. It was a distraction. I talked a little about my day, but felt like they didn't really want to be bothered with it. That's ok, I really wanted to be alone anyway.

Around 11:30 today, I looked at my phone, expecting it to ring. That's about when Monty has been calling me recently. It didn't ring, of course. Because he's gone. Not for good, but for now. I can't even say when I'll see him next.

I'm still left with questions. Right now, only one is coming to mind. Who are these tears for? Me? Him? His family? The people who were hurt indirectly? I don't know if I'll ever know.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009


No, I'm not here to break into Broadway song.

Monty's hearing is tomorrow. I spoke with him on the phone a few days ago, and I still intend to go. He told me that there really is nothing stopping the judge from sending him off to his fate right then and there. He also said his lawyer thinks it's unlikely because he's very clearly not a flight risk.

He's hoping that the people coming to show support will be able to hang out for a while before we all go our way. His in-laws are hoping to have a going away party for him at a later date.

I've been so busy with my own things, I haven't really had time to consider what tomorrow will bring. Or might bring.

I will see people I've never met, people I've met but never really spent time with, people I don't get along with. I'll hear the details of the charges, that won't shock me because I already know them. I wonder how many do. I wonder if it will change how he acts around me once he knows that I know. They won't be calling witnesses, that's the purpose that the letters to the judge were supposed to serve (and mine did get included. While others did, I did not show Monty what I wrote). Then there are three things we're supposed to learn: to what facility he will be taken, when, and for how long.

I thought that, while writing this, some of the reality of it would sink in, but it still hasn't. Yes, my friend will be going away. He will be paying for a crime that he must pay for. It will be months after he goes that I finally hear from him as it is. I wonder how things will change for me when I don't get those semi-weekly calls from him anymore. I don't spend a whole lot of time with him, I didn't before this mess started. But, he was always there, and would be there if I needed him. What will it be like when he's not there anymore?

I'm still feeling very disconnected from it. Even that I'm going because he asked me, not for any specific desire for me to be there. I guess there's nothing but to see what tomorrow will bring.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Half of the Truth

While I was talking to Monty on the phone the other day, he mentioned he noticed that I don't accept invitations to stay overnight anymore. He found it odd that I had done so before but recently had been insistent to leave in the wee hours of the morning rather than wait until dawn and get a tiny bit of sleep. He mentioned that I seem to be uncomfortable at the idea, where I had taken him up on it twice before.

"It's the bugs," I told him. That's only half of it, I admit that.

The basement that has been his home for more than a year is prone to bugs. Big brown beetle-type bugs whose corpses I often find flat from being trampled underfoot. I do think about the bugs that may be crawling on me or into my bags while I'm there. I pointed out that he probably noticed I don't take my shoes off anymore too. He said he had. He also said he was glad that it was something that he can easily work to remedy so I will feel more comfortable and not because of him that I no longer stay.

That's the part that I didn't tell him. It does make me uncomfortable, knowing what I now know. I don't know what I'm going to do if he says he's taken care of the bugs. Will I have to own to this part of the issue? Why am I so adamant that I don't do it now?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Character Letter

Monty and I have been phone tagging for a while. Because of this, I didn't get information for writing the character letter to the judge that he asked me to write until last night, which was the day his attorney wanted all the letters by.

I told him I would write one. And I did, I did it this morning and faxed it to the attorney's office. I do hope it's not too late to include mine. I know I've known him longer than many. If the judge takes any words to heart, mine will be among them.

It was difficult to write, really. For one, I've never written a judge. For two, I have many stories of good times that reflect the kind of person I know Monty to be. If I was to say everything, the judge would certainly get tired of reading it. The other thing is that I had to forget about the crime, that's not the point and the letters have nothing to do with sentencing (meaning that it was not for me to ask him to be merciful, which I would have had a hard time doing).

The funny thing was that, while I've been unable to find books to help me through this situation, I was able to find some sites that offered a bit of guidance for the character letter. More guidance than what the attorney's office had sent to me, that is.

But it's done and sent and I hope it wasn't too late. I feel good that I followed through. I told him long before I knew the extent of the crime that I would do it, and I have.

When I spoke with him yesterday, he confirmed that the hearing is still on the 25th. He has been saying that he might have a month or more to get his affairs in order after the sentence is pronounced. He also said last night that the judge may deem it necessary to cart him off right away. I had been wondering about this. Apparently, according to his attorney, granting thirty to ninety days before having to surrender is common. The purpose is to allow criminals time to work out what will need to be worked out before he goes away. I told him I only had TV to go on, really, and didn't know they regularly did that. "Reality is very different," he said.

If he is allowed the standard ninety days that would mean that the latest date he could surrender would be the day before Thanksgiving. He could, of course, surrender earlier than that. I would almost encourage him to do so. Can you imagine your last day of freedom is the day before a major holiday? Better for it to be a day of no significance. I'm not sure why I feel that way.