Through all this, we long for contact with our incarcerated loved ones, to know that they are physically OK and working to survive incarceration and making choices that will return them to the free world at the end of their sentence prepared to build productive lives. We await the phone calls with a mixture of longing and a fear of soaring phone bills. We long to get letters and struggle to find both the time to write and know what to write about to our missing loved one.
But the worst thing is if the phone calls stop without explanation and there are no letters in our mail boxes. Are they being transferred? Have they been injured? Or become seriously ill? Are they depressed? Have they been transferred to protective custody or more restrictive housing? Is the facility on the news? Does the chaplain know anything? Does the lawyer know anything? ARE THEY OK?
So, to prepare for such moments of distress, make each contact count. Set reasonable boundaries about time and duration for phone calls so you can really enjoy the voice of your loved one when you talk. Keep your letters honest but kind so, if they must be read a hundred times before the next one arrives, they leave the taste of hope during a stressful time rather than reinforcing despair. Be kind during visits even though you are exhausted by the travel and unnerved by the expense.
And when our hearts are tight with fear and uncertainty, let us turn our faces to God, thankful that no matter where we are or where our loved one is, God always knows what is going on and what is needed and has unlimited resources to meet those needs fully, everywhere and for everybody.