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November 1, 2017 started out as a normal day I suppose. I had ended the previous day at an event that had deep discussion around second chance hiring. It is part of the bigger picture of reforming our justice system and one that resonated with me personally as I pondered Daniel’s fate when he returns home next year.

It also was a day that I could say we have less than a year to go.

Eleven more Oprah subscriptions, or as Daniel puts it, 11 more chicken on the bone. (Ask someone who lives behind the wire what that means.)

What 11 months means to me is difficult to articulate. It’s a host of overwhelming thoughts and emotions and it feels good to say less than a year. Remember, when he went in 5 years ago he was sentenced to 15 years! The horror of that still haunts me.

Some of my emotions are tied to the pain I feel for my momma bears who have a child in prison that won’t be coming home next year, or the year after, or for some not for many, many years. I don’t want to hide my excitement, but I want to be sensitive to them. I love these families, they are my family now and I want to be part of their world when they are close to the end.

On to my normal day. Imagine if you will the phone ringing at 10 or 11 this same night and it says, “Blue Phone.” I assume it’s Daniel, but I do have others that call me from the prison line. I answer it with that usual panic because if it is Daniel why is he calling me so late, there must be something wrong. The recorded message asking me to accept or decline the call seemed to last forever.

“Hey Baby, you okay?”

“I’m going out tonight momma”

“WHAT”

“Yup, they told me to pack it up”

Pack it up. I’ve been screaming that from my deck during a dozen full moons now and this time it worked. He was moving!!! We didn’t know where he would go and of course we are nervous, but my heart told me he was going to a transitional center. It’s was going to be another long night…

The wait to hear from him was endless. When he finally called it was from the TC. We screamed with joy and we braced ourselves for the next leg of this journey. Another journey that we had very little detail about, only the stories from those who went through it, nothing with real facts so we will once again figure it out. And we will do so happily because this morning, November 6, 2017, for the first time in five years Daniel came out behind the wire, unshackled.

He breathed in the fall morning air and began to work at his new job and as he put it “it feels good to do something  normal.”

Here's to the new normal.