May you finally have found freedom and peace.
As all my friends and family know, and most of my blog readers, I have been writing to E for over 6 years. E was serving a death sentence and had been in prison for over 23 years. Last week the US government killed him by lethal injection in an execution that was surrounded by controversy and media coverage.
I am so glad that I got to meet E back in 2008. What an experience it was to visit death row, and to meet someone that I'd been writing to for so long. He was just how I imagined he would be, from his letters and phone calls. A very funny man with the ability to easily make me laugh out loud.
Over 6 years, countless letters and dozens of phone calls I felt that E had become my friend. Despite any crimes he may have commited, he had a place in my heart. 23 years can change a person, that much is true. I looked forward to his letters. I will miss the excitement of seeing that American stamped letter in my mail box.
A few weeks back, just after my birthday, E phoned me for the last time. We talked for over 40 minutes. Only now do I realise that he had phoned to say goodbye. He was more open than he had been before about what my friendship meant to him, and how me and my family would always have a place in his heart. He told me that I was the only person for many years who cared to give him the time of day, and that my letters had meant so much to him. Then he told me that he didn't have long left, stating 'possibly the end of January'.
The horror of this didn't really hit me until I heard the news that he had been granted a death warrant and a date had been set. I felt immediately sick. I spent the next two weeks in utter torment and upset. I had always known this day would come, but also always beleived it wouldn't. After all, nothing had happened for twenty-three years, so perhaps nothing would?
But the day did come. For two weeks I found it so hard to continue with daily life. The thought of E was constantly in my mind. The horror of what was happening. The execution was scheduled for midnight our time. I sat alone in my bed and spent the evening reading through the letters he had sent me. I had a glass of wine, played music, and discovered little treasures in the letters that I'd long forgotten.... little cards with cute sayings on them, a gold cross that was his mothers, drawings of me that he had done from photos, photos that he had sent me himself. As midnight came I said a prayer for him. I know he was at peace with God and looking forward to his final freedom. I lit a candle and sat on my bed surrounded by letters until the small hours of morning. His execution was delayed for several hours, but it did finally happen. The following day I read the news reports about it.
I felt a little peace after it was done. The horror of waiting was over and he was suffering no more. Now I feel sad that I will not hear from him again. I feel sad when I get my mail and know that there will be no chance of anything from him again. But I no longer feel so tortured.
I will miss E a lot, more than my words can convey. He brought something to my life and I to his. And I am truly glad that I took the time to get to know him. Rest in Peace E.