Project Free Write: Elias


By P.

I wake up everyday wondering and asking myself why things happen to me. I am 45 years old, and I have been through so many things. But the thing that changed my life forever, and I still struggle with daily is this.

It was a hot day in June. I was in my cell in Delano Reception Center. Me and my celly were playing chess. I hear my name called and my cell door popped open. Counselor and a C.O. told me to come down. They kept asking me how my day was. As they escorted me to the program office, I asked “What is this about?” They said I had a 10-minute call with my wife. They sat me down, handcuffed on a chair backwards. They put the phone on speaker, and it rang about 3 times. She picks up. And she starts crying. Shell tells me my youngest son Elias was shot 3 times in the chest and died on June 5th, 2022. He would’ve been 21 years old on July 15th.

Not a day goes by without thoughts of him. I miss him every day. It hurts every day, wishing he was still here with us. It’s hard on all of us, especially my two older boys. I know they miss their brother so much. It’s hard on all of us. I feel like going crazy at times. But I have 3 beautiful granddaughters that need me. I’m doing my best to be strong for them. Sometimes I think there was a reason I was locked up when this happened. It’s hard every day for me to push forward and be positive. Some days are better than others. Some days are worse than others.

I wish I could just wake up from this nightmare. I cry sometimes, just thinking and missing him. Sometimes, I catch myself wanting to ask, “Where is he at?” I was told on the way to the hospital that he had his eyes open with tears coming before he passed. That is a picture I can’t get out of my head.

I don’t know if I’ll ever lose the way I’m feeling. I feel I failed to protect my son. I feel that I just want to give up and go back to my old ways. But is it worth it for me to go back to prison for life? I have a lot of people that need me out and home. I have a lot of support as well. I have 3 granddaughters that need me and my 2 older sons. It’s not easy to maintain my composure, but I’m doing my best trying to make it out of here.

I talk to my son a lot, asking him to help me and look over me. I’ll sit at his grave and spend time with him. Never in a million years, I never thought this would happen to me. Never thought it could happen to me. I don’t think I’ll ever stop asking myself, “Why do these things happen to me?” My heart hurts every day. No words or anything else will help with something like this. I just wake up every day hoping things will get better, but pictures around my house of my son are not the same as having him around with us. He will never be forgotten, and he will always be in our hearts.

About Project Free Write…

Poet, scholar, and activist Maya Angelou once wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  Project Free Write heeds this wisdom.

Founded by the Yolo County Public Defender, Project Free Write is an eight-week storytelling workshop for criminal legal system impacted persons with a mission to bear witness to their voices, their experiences, and their common humanity.

Classes and creative workshops take place at the Day Reporting Center, a county program that provides comprehensive evidence-based services to men and women on probation, parole, or released from the local jail.

In addition to reading and discussing various stories, students are given ample time to “free-write” or draw their own stories and experiences in their own words. In sharing these stories with the Yolo County community, Project Free Writes inspires individuals to advocate for one another’s humanity and seek meaningful change in the criminal legal system.


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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