I received a 4-page hand-written letter from my brother in the USDB, and quite frankly, he is adjusting to the news of his twin’s passing and life in prison way better than expected. He thanks me for taking care of the funeral arrangements. Surprisingly, he calls the last two weeks "peaceful".
"I've really made a point to relax and take it easy. I've been exercising, lifting weights again... I had lost a lot of weight from fasting. So now, I'm putting on weight again. I feel good. I'm healthy. I’m also now slowly getting back into reading and my studies and meditations and recording my dreams – which were things I had stopped since (our brother) died."In fact, his words explain his feelings best, so I will continue with what he says:
"Some people have told me that I’ll always 'have a lump in my heart' or that 'a piece of me will always be missing' – which I have always immediately responded with 'No, I will not always have a lump in my heart. I will move through this, I will make peace with this and get past it. I am whole, I am complete within myself and I’m ok.' Which is true. Y'know, I'll love (our brother) for the rest of my life, and I’m dearly sorry that he was suffering so bad. I really tried to help. I recognize that this radically affects my life both inside of prison and when I get out. There is no denial here. I recognize the significance of this situation. But also, I am not emotionally or psychologically dependent on (our brother) or anyone else."I knew that. He acknowledges I know that. Our brother wore a mask of bravado, but was definitely the more fragile – and dependent – of the two. That's also why he had an addiction problem – it stemmed from this dependency. Whether it was survivor's guilt, or a feeling of responsibility for what happened to the two of them years ago, he could just never move beyond it. He clung. Desperately, and we both knew he was depressed, even suicidal. And we both tried to help.
"If anyone thought that (our brother) didn’t feel remorse, guilt, embarrassment from all the stupid shit he's done, they would be very wrong. (Our brother) was humiliated from his own actions, and he knew it was his own fault, but gosh, depression can be debilitating."In my one brother's case, it kept him stuck in one place in time for years.
"I'm not mad at (him). I'm disappointed. He was so close to moving out of Philadelphia and to Phoenix (I did not know this). He tried. So long best friend.”My brother in the USDB has adjusted to this loss in interesting ways.
My brother tells me he's reading a book of Zen Koans I sent him. He states that as a Buddhist, he affiliates himself with Zen.
I've been cutting the grass outside and I enjoy my job. I find myself in positions to save little critters from getting hurt, like frogs. Earlier this week, I was operating the motorized weed whacker and for a brief moment, I wasn't paying attention to what I was cutting and I whacked a sleeping bird in the face. I didn't know birds slept on the ground. I thought he died instantly, but then I saw he was still alive. I turned off my tool and got to my knees and picked up the bird with my hands. I was so sorry. He gasped for breath and died in my hands.
As for his first level appeal, it was denied. As expected. Still, he is disappointed. He was hoping for a reduction of his sentence to "life with parole." He tells me the second level of appeals will take about 6-8 months. I'll take his word on this.
He sends me his love. And our lives go on.