We went to see my brother yesterday. At his new "home." A couple weeks ago they moved George from his old facility to a new facility. (forgive me for not posting it on here, if you want to ask me IRL I'll tell you but it is not for the internet. For his safety I will not put that on the internet.) When they told George they would be moving him he was struck with panic. Where would I go? I was struck with the same thought. Except mine also had the "how far away would it be?" fear in there because he was already 4 1/2 hours away. Far enough away that we didn't see him as often as I would like but close enough that it wasn't super hard to see him. But he could go farther away. I would die. Thankfully, he did not move farther away he moved closer! YES! 3 hours from where we are now and 2 hours when we move. Sweet. An easy day trip.
Saturday we went to see him. (We can visit him on even weekend days) A little nervous because we weren't sure what this place was all about since we had never been there. He isn't a huge fan of this place, but it is what it is. He says the guards at the other place spoiled him (them) with their kindness and that is not the case at this new place. Not that they are outright mean, they are just different and he likes the old guards better than these guys. They were all nice to us when we came in and even joked with us. Either way, we figured out the system and it was different at this place but I figure that is because of the different layout of the facility and just some stricter rules because it is a facility for a higher level (levels go from 1-5, George is a 3, this place is a 3/4 so some of the guys in there are level 4's which I think is the reason for the more security.)
We get there, make it through security - but not without some fun at the metal detector thankyouverymuch bra makers for putting metal in bras - and we made our way to the visiting room. Smaller than the other place which I find funny because this place is bigger. But there is an OUTSIDE patio. Outside. When it is nice we can sit outside. That both excites me and scares me. It excites me because then we can spend nice days outside and maybe it will be a little quieter than it is inside. It scares me because it is in the middle-ish part of the facility which means that the patio looks kind of like the yard. Surrounded by a LOT of razor wire and high fences and guard towers. It is a closer look into my brothers life in prison and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. They opened the patio Saturday and George opted to stay inside. Not sure why, but he said he wanted to stay inside. We were all ok with that because these visits are for him more than they are for us. They are his time to have his family there to sit with, joke with, tell stories with, and to have a small escape from the reality that is his life right now.
The nicest part about these visits is that there are vending machines. That come with "real" food. I use real loosely. There are things like subs, and pizzas, and sodas, and candies in these machines but it isn't like having actual, real food but for him it is as close to real food as he can get. New place, new food. The one cool thing is that the sodas come in bottles now, not cans. And there is a little bit more of a soda variety. Not by much I mean it is a vending machine and there are two clear choices for those - Coke products and Pepsi products. Either way they still have Mountain Dew of which George had 2. They had more candy machines, but that was about the same variety. Except this place has Skittles which are a favorite of Georges so he had a bag. And some chips. And a candy bar.
Then there is food-food. Sandwiches, pizza, wings. Not a huge selection, but it is a vending machine so there is a limit on space and what can be stored in them. A new thing for us is the frozen machine. There were frozen meals (for which they have microwaves). They also had ice cream. I saw that and seriously, out loud, said "OMG they have ice cream." I think people stared at me, but whatever there was ice cream. Do you know what kind of treat that is? HUGE. George had THREE ice cream bars. One of them was not planned, but when my dad went to get himself some ice cream it came out as an extra. George happily claimed that as his own.
Overall, we had a really good visit. Full of laughs, jokes, stories, and some quality family time. Steve didn't get to come with us so it was just the 4 of us. That is kind of nice sometimes. We talked about old times and things we used to do. We talked about the future and what we will do when George comes home. Maybe he'll go to college, we talked about that and for now he's still unsure. We got to visit for about 3 hours which is really nice. I got 2 hugs. Pretty much the best hugs ever. For 3 hours we were a family again. In the middle of a visitation room full of guards, inmates, and other families we were a family again. A whole family. And then we had to leave. Leaving is the hardest part. Watching him go back through that door. I can NOT wait for the day when we get to go, pick him up, and bring him home. FOR GOOD. With the exception of my wedding day and the birth of my future children, that will be the happiest day of my life. It will be the day my family is put back together. Unfortunately, that day is 2 years away. So for now, we take what we can get and we are thankful that we are able to see him as often as we can and that for a few hours we can be a family again.
On a "debbie downer" kind of note. I have to get this out.
I miss my brother terribly. Every.single.day. I have this incredible pain and a huge hole in my spirit that won't go away until he is home safe and sound. Its hard for me to talk about because there is no one that understands. I don't have a single friend that is anywhere close to me that can understand or even tries to. Most days I feel very alone. Scared and alone. It is a conversation that I am DYING to have with someone. But how. How do I bring that up? How do I say "hey, can I be a complete downer and pretty much ruin any good mood that you might be in right now?" How can I cry to someone that doesn't understand. How can I get advice about how to go on when I don't feel like I can from someone that doesn't get it. I have a hard time asking for help. I've always been the listener. The advice giver. I've always, always, always held my feelings inside. I don't like to burden people. I don't know how to ask for help. Don't get me wrong, I am not wishing that anyone I know would actually have to go through this just so I could have someone that understands. Because I don't want anyone to feel this pain. I don't want anyone to ever have to feel, know, or see the things that I have felt, known, and seen. I just wish someone would try to understand.
There you go. I don't feel better, but at least it's out.