Journal Entry – June 17

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 17 – Thursday

Last month, I had put my name on the list of people willing to help with Vacation Bible School. Today a woman from church called and left a message about a meeting tonight at 7:30om and I really didn’t want to go after hearing what my friend told me. I just feel so abandoned. I thought about it all afternoon and decided that I should go. I said I would and backing out now would only make them think they are right in what they have decided not to do.

So, I went, and C came with me. We are going to have the 2 and 3-year-old group together. But I haven’t told you the best part! The deacon that the Pastor told me to talk to about my arrest was there. I have been trying to get in touch with him, but I haven’t had a chance to talk with him in person. Well, I knew it was him when I saw him, but I’m so shy. I couldn’t bring myself to walk up and introduce myself. I went and talked to the vacation bible school leader about what exactly I had to do with my group of kids and she told me that the person to talk to would be the deacon and his wife. I had another reason to walk up and talk to him! They started to lay out what we were going to do and when. And when they were done, I told him who I was and we talked about the case. I told him that I had already hired a lawyer and who he was. The deacon reassured me that I was doing what I was supposed to and how things were going to proceed. Wow! Talk about God intervening on my behalf. Talking with him, although he didn’t offer any help other than to confirm what I already knew, was really what I needed today. I feel so much better and I was feeling terribly anxious today. Five more days until I go to court.

June 18 – Friday

Mom and Grandpa took us to the Huck Finn Festival. They boys were so weird today! Every morning, they get up around 5am and I give them a cup of warm chocolate milk. Today, they got up and fell asleep again, sippy cups in hand. They woke up again at 8am when we had to get ready for Grandpa to pick us up. Once we got in the car, J fell asleep again and woke up an hour later when we got to the festival. They were whiney and timid all day. Everything scared them, and they wouldn’t eat anything. They just never fully woke up. I got them Civil War hats, but J would only wear it over his Indy Jones hat. We watched a little circus with two people in it. Tom really liked that. On the way home, they both fell asleep again. J started screaming and kicking in his sleep so bad and so long I had to get off the freeway and get him out of his seat to calm him down. Maybe they are coming down with a cold or something.

June 20 – Sunday Father’s Day

I stepped in to help run the sound at church today and I had lots of time to think.  What was I thinking about? I was wondering why I am spending almost my whole weekend here doing this. I’ll go back a bit. Yesterday, I left for church at 6:30pm and got home at 10:30pm. I was helping get the new sanctuary ready for Sunday service. They asked for my help because I have worked with sound systems before and thought I’d be of use. It didn’t take that long to do the work, but the church is nearly an hour from my house, so that adds a couple hours of driving to any work I do. And it was in the evening. I had to miss dinner and bedtime.

This morning I left at 7:30am and got back at 12:30pm. It’s Father’s Day and I have my family to attend to, so I got home, gathered the family, and headed to my Aunt’s house.

So, here I am wondering what to do. I love this church. It’s the first one I’ve ever gone to regularly. I feel like I found the Lord here. I was baptized here. The people are nice, and I used to feel closer to them before this arrest thing. I feel like I’m losing my church to this. I know God is everywhere and there are nice people in churches right close to my home. I should start going to one of those. But what if I don’t feel the same there? What if it’s different? I used to feel so safe at this church. Now I just feel that I have skills they need but they don’t really trust me. I’m so confused right now. It’s something I really need to keep praying about.

June 21 – Monday

Playgroup was busy today! We had five families at the house! Afterward, my friend took T to the park while J and I took a nap. Then my Mom came over and we went to the grocery store for enchilada supplies. We had a very full table for dinner tonight! We played in the front yard until the nightly fireworks (one of the perks of living so close to Disneyland) and then went straight to bed. Pretty much a perfect day!

I am feeling a lot of stress about tomorrow’s court appearance. I hope I can get some sleep. Lots of prayers.

June 22 – Tuesday

One month later and it’s finally court day! I’m so blessed to have D! He is such a great husband and father. He helped me so much this morning by finding out where we were supposed to be and when. I just followed him and worked on keeping my anxiety under control. I kept my focus on breathing calmly, praying for peace and that this would end soon.

My lawyer was amazing to watch. I have a whole new understanding of Jesus as our advocate in heaven after watching him. The courtroom is intimidating. It’s big and there are so many people standing around waiting. There are rules and protocols I don’t understand. Everyone is in a hurry and worried. The moment my lawyer showed up, he took charge of the situation. I could feel the tension lessen. He told us what to do, where to go, what was happening, and how to deal with it. We were safe and assured in his instructions and knew that he would intercede on our behalf in front of the judge. As the court opened, he interacted with the judge as he would an old friend. We just stood near him. A few words were exchanged. And we left the courtroom. I’m still scared of what might happen, but after this day, I’m thanking God for the enlightenment.

My lawyer was hoping they would realize they had the wrong person and drop the charges on their own, but it looks like that’s not happening. The arraignment has been postponed for further discovery. We have another court date in a month. We have work to do.

To alleviate the stress, we picked up the family and went to Lake Arrowhead! I haven’t been up there in years. The kids played on a huge inflatable slide. C and I shopped. I got a present for my mom. There weren’t many trees or nice places to camp because of the fires earlier in the year. It was kind of sad, but it’s still such a beautiful area.

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Journal Entry – June 2 & 3

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 2 – Wednesday

An uneventful day, as Wednesday’s usually are. Mom took N to school this morning and her mother will pick her up. D’s working. And me? I’m anxious to get together things for my defense, but that involves concentration and the boys refuse to let me have any of that. I just don’t have the energy to take two little boys out right now. They know I’m distracted and they want my attention, but I’m at a loss as to how I can give it to them at the moment. The stress I’m under is making me so sleepy, I just don’t want to play right now. I know it is bad. I promised them we’d will do something fun tomorrow.

In case you are wondering why every entry involves my sons going to sleep behavior, it’s because I write here in my journal after story time. Our bedtime routine starts with baths, pajamas, and teeth brushing. Then stories, one for T, one for J, and one I want to share with them. Right now, we’re reading Pinocchio, the original version. It’s fun explaining old words and hearing their reaction to this bad little wooden boy’s actions. They are usually very upset with him.

Tonight, we tried going to bed one at a time again. It didn’t work. J came up after the story and climbed in bed. He doesn’t want to leave his brother’s side. T is so over tired by the evening, but he won’t take a nap with his brother. He rolls and wiggles around in bed so much he won’t go to sleep.

Recently, T has found the wonderful phrases, “I am!” and “OK!” Four is a glorious age. And J copies him in his two-year-old voice. It’d be funny and cute if I weren’t in such a mood.

J just talked himself to sleep. One minute he was babbling away and the next he was sound asleep! I’ll lay down with Tom until he falls asleep and then get in my bed. I’m just too tired to sit here and wait.

June 3 – Thursday

A miracle happened today! This morning I woke up tense, already anxious about what I was going to do to keep us busy all day. I called Grandma and Grandpa, but they didn’t call me back. We went to Target and the boys were awful. Maybe “awful” is too harsh a word. They were being little boys that wanted to play. A bag of popcorn and an ICEE were not going to suffice. The urge to run wild and have Mom chase them was too strong for shopping.

When we go home, a friend called and asked if she and her daughter could come over and use my computer because hers was broken. That would liven things up! A few minutes later, another friend and her kids showed up and then a couple more! We got pizza and we hung out and talked while the kids played in the yard. Then we all watched a movie while they took a nap all over the living room. The grown-ups took a bit of a nap too! They all left around 4:30, just in time for me to start thinking about dinner.

What a great day this turned out to be. I am lucky to have such great friends. The Lord works in some amazing ways. After dinner, my aunt called and said she couldn’t watch the boys tomorrow. She was going to take them swimming all day so I could get caught up on some housework and have a day to myself. After talking with her, I thought, if the girls hadn’t been here all day today and then I got that call I would have cried. Thanks God! I may not get caught up on housework as much as I had hoped, but at least the boys had an active day and would probably be more cooperative about letting me get some things done while they play tomorrow.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Journal Entry – May 31 and June 1

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

May 31 – Monday

The boys both took a three-hour nap today so now it is 9:30 and we are finally getting started with going to bed. As usual, the fighting over being quiet has already begun. Sometimes I wonder if I know what I’m supposed to be doing here. One needs a drink, the other wants a blanket. One more hug, “He’s touching my foot!”, a giggle. I just want peace. I try to let them settle on their own while I read, but the tension builds until I feel that I have to stop them. Quiet words don’t seem to help. I keep praying for ways to end the day more peacefully.

N was home from school today for Memorial Day. The day was fun but mostly uneventful. We sold our old truck to a friend of the neighbor. The whole house was involved in the sale. I’m sure the man thought our family was a bit strange. N had funny comments about how to use the truck. And T wanted to know about every word we wrote on the Bill of Sale. When he took the keys and drove off, it made us all a little sad to see it go. So many memories in such a short time. We’ve had that old truck about five years and it has gotten a lot of use.

My Mom called today. We talked about her discovery and acceptance of Jesus. It makes me happy to hear her so excited and positive about life.

I had a thought about life today and tried to put it into words for her. It didn’t come out right, but maybe I can write it here and be more clear. I told her life is like a video game with no instructions. You aren’t sure what the point of the game is or what the outcome will be. You go around searching with your map and some clues. You find things along the way and pick them up. They may prove to be useful. Bad things, people, and obstacles are in your way, especially when you are close to the truth. People are put in your path to help or give information. In the end…well…we don’t know how it ends exactly. Just like the child playing the game, we can never fully understand the makers intentions or reasoning until we complete the game.

June 1 – Tuesday

Playgroup met at our house again today. It sounds strange to just keep going along like nothing is happening. Drop N at school, playgroup, shopping, etc. It’s easier than cancelling everything and waiting. Life just doesn’t work that way. The boys had a lot of fun today running around the yard and in and out of the house with all their friends. Afterwards, J took a long nap, but T refused to be still. He asked to go play video games with Grandma while we rested. He kissed me on my head and headed down the stairs.

My best friend stayed after playgroup to watch the boys and D came home early from work so that we could meet with the lawyer at 3pm. Grandma picked up N at school. With our bases covered, we headed to the lawyer’s office.

I’m still experiencing all of this as if I’m on movie set. It sounds crazy, but I just can’t shake the feeling. I’ve never been to a lawyer’s office before but walking in was exactly as I expected from watching tv. From the tall building to the polished floors and heavy furniture, it was just like a scene from Law & Order.

On our way down, we talked about what might happen. I think we were both convinced that we were worried about nothing. This kind of thing must happen all the time. We were going to go in there, tell our story, and then this lawyer was going to say, “No worries folks. I’ll take care of it. We’ll talk to the judge, show them who you are, and they’ll drop the case right away.” We were wrong. He was polite, kind, and serious. We were very comfortable talking to him. My understanding of defense attorneys comes from TV and movies as well. They help the bad guys get away, right? I’m starting to think I’m going to learn a lot through this ordeal. Does one ever know how naïve they have been until after a crisis occurs? I never knew a defense attorney could make a person feel so supported. He explained the process and we both feel much better knowing someone is working on our side.

The hardest part of the meeting was writing out a check for $12,000 as a retainer for the lawyer. It’s surreal. I keep thinking that he can’t possibly use all that money and maybe we’ll get some of it back when it’s all over. In the meantime, I have homework to do. I need a list of calls I made from my cell phone, friend’s addresses and phone numbers, emails and instant messages, journal entries, etc. It’s all to establish an alibi. He says I need to show them I can’t be the person they believe me to be. I must prove myself innocent. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. The strangest thing is that I need photos of myself, ones from just before the event and after. He says it’s to show that I haven’t changed my appearance in the recent past. The problem will be finding pictures with me in them. I’m the picture taker, so I’m rarely in them! I’m hoping maybe my family has some.

I do have one confession. I’m still feeling positive. I’m sure this will all iron out soon, but I’m getting tired of telling everyone the story. This is so stressful, not to mention expensive. I really don’t feel like defending myself on how we are handling this and some of my family is constantly at me. I know they are worried too and I know they are trying to help, but I just don’t have the energy to fight these allegations AND explain my process to others at the same time. They will just need to deal with their own feelings for themselves.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Journal Entry May 27

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

May 27 – Thursday

My husband and I have talked and thought so much about what happened on Tuesday we’re getting sick of it. It seems that my whole concept of justice relies on how this has happened to me and the reasons behind it. It rules my thoughts right now.

I got a lawyer and we have an appointment next week. Having a professional something on my side makes me feel a little better for the moment. I don’t feel so alone.

J fell asleep on the couch for two hours this morning at 10am. T seems so much more tired than usual, but he won’t take a nap of course. So, by the time dinner was ready, they were pretty wild with one being full of energy and the other being over tired. Whose idea was it to have children only a year and half apart?

I counted my change collection today and had $128 so we went to the bank to exchange it for paper money! Since that’s pretty much free money out of nowhere, we went to the toy store and got a Leap Pad and a Hot Wheel’s race track while N was at school. I found N a “flip trac” for her “Beanz” that I can’t wait to give her. I’m not sure who likes these toys more, me or the kids.

May 30 – Sunday

Friday and Saturday went as they usually do. Chasing little boys, a walk to the library, meals, grocery store, baths, naptimes…ahh, the life of a Stay-at-home-Mom. We picked up N from her Mother on Saturday instead of Sunday because we a family gathering to attend!

Today was my husband’s birthday, so we had cake for breakfast and opened the presents that we got for him before I went to church. We have an annual tradition of taking a picture of him with the kids on his birthday. This year’s picture was adorable. Other than this court case looming, it’s been picture perfect around here.

On the way home from church, I started to have a panic attack. I started thinking about these accusations and how they could affect the rest of my life. It all came in on me and I couldn’t breathe. I turned on music and tried to remain calm as I drove. Focusing on each street name, car colors, and other ordinary things helps me a lot.

When I got home I walked in to the boys screaming and crying and still in their pajamas, N playing games on the Xbox, the house a wreck, the trash full, my husband unshowered…I freaked. It was not pretty.

We were supposed to leave for my Dad’s when I got home! I yelled about it and ended up not being able to breathe again. The whole panic attack I felt coming on hit me full force in the face of unexpected delays. I felt like throwing up and it had nothing to do with my family and their lack of planning. I ran out to the yard. I sat on the side of the house sobbing and praying for help for about fifteen minutes.

My family wisely decided to leave me be for a while. I felt like I should wear a sign, “Danger – Do Not Approach the Mom.” Once I felt like I had control of myself, I came back in and D held me close. My poor husband. This must be so hard on him, too, and all I can think of if what I may lose. He was only trying to enjoy his Sunday morning, just like me. He didn’t realize what time it was. I got some big hugs from the kids, lots of pats and kisses. They have no idea what’s going on, only that Mom is very upset. I wish I could tuck it all away so they can’t see it. Thinking that they may be affected by all of this only adds to my anxiety.

I wish I had better coping mechanisms right now. I feel like the medication I’m taking for anxiety is no match for all of this. This jail and trial thing is really nagging at me. Everything I believed about the police and justice and safety is up in the air right now. I am looking at the possibility of losing years of my life! My babies! I can’t stand it. I watch them play and wonder if it is all slipping away from me forever and there is nothing I can do about it.  I can’t make it worse by stepping away from it all and losing the time I have.

So, I sat there with my family and took it all in. I “cried it out a bit” as we have told the kids so many times. When the tears subsided, we quickly got cleaned up and ready to go, packed up the truck and headed to my Dad’s house for the day. We went swimming and had tacos and cake. It was a nice diversion and we came home tired.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Journal Entry – May 26

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

Journal Entry – May 26

What an awesome God we have! I know His peace was with me yesterday in jail and He has brought so many loving and helpful people into our lives today.

I am scheduled to appear in court on June 22. I can’t believe I have to wait that long with this hanging over my head, but at least we don’t have to feel like we’re rushing to get a lawyer. Maybe when we talk with him, it will all be cleared up and be over.

I talked to my pastor today and told him what happened. He was shocked of course. Strange to sit there and tell him the story. I felt like I was telling him about a TV show I watched. He thinks one of the deacons of our church may be able to help me. I’m going to call him tomorrow.

Mom called a friend and got a number for a good lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer! Never in my life… My uncle knows another good lawyer from his work in case the first one doesn’t want my case, and he’s offered money to help. L from our playgroup was a parole officer and is going to see how she can help.

People are coming out of the woodwork to help. It’s truly a blessing and I just keep thanking God for it all. I’m not sure what we do if it weren’t for our friends and family.

My husband took his daughter to school this morning. I don’t think she realizes that I went to jail, at least I hope not. She wasn’t there when I was arrested. I just keep praying she doesn’t say something to her mother. I can’t imagine what she would think or what she would do. I mean, I know what I’d do if my ex-husband’s wife was accused of armed robbery and car-jacking! I wouldn’t want my child there until it was proven not to be true. I’d hate for this to interrupt my husband’s relationship with his daughter. Man, what a mess.

Our playgroup (the one we meet with every week) has been planning a group dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen tonight for over a month. We recycled cans and had a big yard sale to raise money, so we could all go together. After yesterday’s nightmare and the uncertainty looming over me, I wasn’t sure I was going to go. My sons had a different idea about that. They may be young, but things like this don’t get by kids. “Mommy’s having a crisis” was not going to get me out of it. I’m glad we went, though. It was loud, riotous, and totally fun! It was exactly what I needed. And we got the greatest picture of all of us to remember it by!

The boys were extra weird before we went to the restaurant today. Jake won’t let me out of his sight. He starts crying the second I leave the room. And Tom keeps asking where the bad guys are. He doesn’t want to go in Grandma’s room because he thinks the police were looking for bad guys there.

Sitting here in my rocking chair, writing this while waiting for them to go to sleep, it’s all still so unreal. Can this actually be happening?  Lord, let this be over quickly and not ruin us.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Going Home

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

Approaching the window that called my name, I was handed a bag of my belongings and something to sign. There was a piece of paper I took with me that had a date and directions to appear in court. I took my bag and sat on a locker room style bench to dress in my own clothes. Instructed to leave through a door to my right after I was dressed, I looked at it. My family was on the other side. This will all be over soon.

As I walked through the door I saw my anxious husband waiting there for me. He put his arm around me and led me to our truck in the parking lot. We didn’t talk until we got inside. He asked if I was ok and I responded yes but I was hungry. He told me our boys were with my Aunt and my step-daughter was at home with Grandma probably doing her homework. We had to go get the boys but I wanted to stop and eat first, try to gather my wits and unwind. We drove to a fast food burger place and sat down to eat. My husband related his end of the day.

After I’d been taken, the officer told him that he could post bail at the city jail and gave him the address. He called my Aunt and Uncle, the closest relatives we had at the time in both physical and emotional proximity. They take the boys for the day often and we spend a lot of time at their house swimming and visiting. They’d be the best to look after them while my husband did what he needed to do. He said it was the oddest feeling in the world to relay what had just happened over the phone. They were shocked and told him to bring the boys over right away and they’d help figure out what to do next. My mother-in-law was still dropping my step-daughter off at school 45 minutes away and wouldn’t be back for a while and then she’d need to drive down again in the afternoon to pick her up.

My husband dropped the boys at their house, explained a few more details about the morning, and then left to come to the city jail to see about posting bail. My uncle went with him. None of us has ever been anywhere near any kind of incident like this. He knew my husband would need support.

At the city jail, my husband checked in at the desk and told him why he was there. He was instructed how to post bail and given a list of bail bond places nearby. He asked if there was any way to get a message to me so that I would know that he was working on it. The officer said no. After looking into bonds, he found that if he bought a $50,000 bond and posted bail with that, I’d be out immediately but the cost of the bond would be $5000 that we wouldn’t get back. That is a lot of money for us to lose. Knowing that we weren’t going to skip court, that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and thinking this would all be over in a few days, it didn’t seem worth the cost if he could find the cash instead of the bond. Talking with my uncle, they went to get the cash. Finding that it was going to take a few hours, he attempted to relay that message to me through the police so that I wouldn’t worry. They finally got all the cash together, posted bail, and an hour later here we were.

We sat across the table from each other in awe of what had happened. Never in a million years would we have guessed this could happen to us. We went over each other’s versions of the morning. My husband said that the detective interviewing us all at the house told him that he didn’t really know me, that I had a boyfriend and another apartment nearby and that I was robbing people and cheating on him. I probably had a drug problem that he didn’t know about. He told my husband that it happens all the time. We think we know people but really don’t. My husband just sat there thinking that he had to be on some hidden camera show. Did this man really think this? Was the detective trying to put doubt in his mind so that he’d give up information that would strengthen the case against me? My husband only repeated the same things that I and his mother had said. We are a close family with few internal problems. I’m home most of the time because we have small children. I work outside our home one or two nights a week at most for about four hours nearby. I’m a girl scout leader and I attend church on most Sunday’s and bible study on Wednesday nights. The detective only reiterated what he had concocted about me and told my husband to think about it. Was I really out at a bible study? Could I prove that? My husband was amazed that someone would try so hard to convince him his wife that he knew so well was hiding something like this. How could anyone hide something like this completely?

We finished eating and went to pick up our boys. When we pulled up in front of the house and walked up to the front door, my boys came running out and threw themselves at my legs. They were excited to tell me all about their day. They had hot dogs and went swimming. My aunt hugged me tightly. I’m sure we all couldn’t think of anything to say. My Mom called while we were there and I filled her in on what was going on. My aunt had called the whole family throughout the day to explain what had happened but there was little to tell. My Mom told me that she had called a couple of her friends to help and that she’d call me the next day with a phone number for a lawyer. We all sat and talked for a few more minutes, but I was exhausted and really wanted to go straight to bed. We loaded the boys up into the truck and headed home. On the way, my older son piped up from the backseat, “Did you get the bad guys, Mom?” I looked at my husband. “You left with the police after they had searched the house for bad guys,” he explained. “Yes, we did. And they are very sorry now. The police fixed it up.” That was enough for them. Kids. They were very excited that I got to “help the police” and now that it was all over, all they wanted to know was what was for dinner.

At home, my mother-in-law and step-daughter were watching tv and eating some fast food they had gotten together. My step-daughter had few questions about the incident. I was starting to doubt that she even remembered that anything had happened. Autism is strange. The information is in there, it just isn’t communicated in verbal ways. I still wonder what she thought about it, if she ever thinks about it now. At the time, I was just too tired and worried to delve into it with her. Our relationship was always strained and no discussion was better than the battling we did over homework and getting the laundry to the hamper. I did worry what she might say to her mother when she returned in the middle of the week. What if her mother got the wrong idea and made life even more difficult for my husband to spend time with his daughter?

I spent a few minutes talking with my mother-in-law about her version of the day and going over some of my end of it again. I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed. I’m afraid I was rather short with everyone that evening. My husband fed the boys some dinner while I laid on the couch. He told me not to worry, that we’d figure out what to do tomorrow. We headed up to bed together after dinner and we started our bedtime routine. The boys got their books, I got my journal and my bible. My step-daughter finished using the bathroom and headed to her bedroom. The boys got a bath, brushed their teeth, used the bathroom. We read “Where the Wild Things Are” and listened to “Puff the Magic Dragon”. I tucked them into their beds and sat in my rocking chair while they went to sleep, a ritual we continued for years afterward and rarely a very peaceful ending of our day.

That’s when the “what-if’s” began. What if they boys had run to the door with their toy guns? What if my husband believed the detective’s story? What if I don’t find a lawyer? What if no one believes me? What if I go to jail for this? I looked at my journal and began to write. “I won’t go into the details about what happened today because I doubt I’ll ever forget it.” Hand writing things always seems to help me sort my thoughts. Looking back at them, it doesn’t look that way but it helps as I’m writing. Sometimes reading my old journals makes me cringe. I wrote a page then closed it and read my bible for awhile. The boys finally fell asleep and I got in bed with my husband. He was already asleep and I collapsed into unconsciousness.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Transferred

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

The next thing I knew there was a voice at the door. An officer asked me to get up; they were transferring me to the county jail. It was several hours later. I asked what was going on and the officer said that bail had not been paid, they can’t keep people at the city jail over night, so they were transferring me to the county jail so that I’d be processed in time to get a cell for the night. “It looks like your husband doesn’t believe your story. He hasn’t even been here to bail you out.” I knew in my heart that wasn’t true. He was probably doing everything he could, as quickly and smartly as he could. I trusted my husband. He’s always been my hero. But then my heart sunk to my stomach. I’d be spending the night in jail? Visions of tv shows kept running through my mind and they were not pretty. Suddenly, I felt warm, protected. I’d be ok. This must happen all the time. It’s really no big deal.

The officer cuffed my hands again and walked me to a police car. He put me into the back seat of the car and he got in with his partner, a woman police officer. They seemed in high spirits, just doing their daily work. Did they even care about the person in the back seat? Or was I just cargo to them? That’s when the officer driving looked back at me.

“Scared?” he asked. I answered, “A little, yes. I’ve never been in any trouble before.” He just smirked and looked at his partner. We pulled out of the parking lot and headed toward the freeway. I knew where we were going. I’ve had jury duty before and I had to walk by the county jail from the parking garage. When we were on the freeway the officer said, “If my wife were in jail for something she didn’t do, I’d sell the new truck I just bought for bail money and get her out immediately. Ten percent of a $50K bail? I wouldn’t let my innocent wife go to county over night for $5000.” I sat there thinking that would be ridiculous. We just bought that truck the previous weekend, on credit, brand new. Everyone knows it’s not worth what you have a loan for the moment you take it off the lot. We’d planned on having that truck until it fell apart. Sure, he’d get cash for a bail bond but we’d be out a truck and all the money. I’m innocent, so I’ll be getting my bail back right away. I’m sure he’s just looking for the cash from friends and family. That takes time. I was proud to sit in jail and not do something stupid out of panic. “It doesn’t look like he buys your story this time. Probably been suspecting something was going on for a long time. He’s taken your kids and left you to us.” I just sat there dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe he was talking to me like that. What a horrible thing to say. Who do they think I am?

They continued to chat in the front seat as we drove the county jail. Pulling through the large gate with barbed wire along the top, my heart dropped. This was real. I was walked in and sat on a bench with several other women. They chained me to the bench with the others. Some paperwork was exchanged and the officers left, the heavy door closing and buzzing locked behind them.

Within a few minutes, a guard came and unlocked our handcuffs. We were asked to follow him to another room. It was a processing room. Completely made of concrete block, including bench seats along the walls. There was a large window facing into the main building. The whole thing reminded me of a warehouse, like Costco only for people. I walked in and sat down among the other women. Some were just sitting there, some were worried, some seemed a tad frantic, probably drugs, I guessed. Most of them were talking to each other.

The women I sat next to began to tell me her story. “I hope this doesn’t take long. I turned myself in, outstanding warrants.” “What for?” I asked, being polite. “Unpaid parking tickets. I got a babysitter for my kids and came in because I knew the babies father would do it when he found out. I can’t have the police coming to the door. They’d put my kids in foster care. Who knows when I’d get them back?” Unpaid parking tickets? Here in this dungeon place for unpaid fines. Another woman chimed into the conversation. “I’m here busted for driving with a suspended license.” Seriously. Most of the women I talked with were in county jail for minor crimes against the state, fines not paid, etc. None of them were there for violence against others, thrown in jail to keep them from hurting anyone else. Most of them would spend at least a few days here, I found. They couldn’t afford the bail until a hearing, so they sat in jail until they were called to court. So strange. This doesn’t seem the way we should be treating “innocent until proven guilty.”

I sat there worrying about my babies. They all seemed so worried as I walked out of the house. What was going on? Was my husband going to be able to find the money and bail me out anytime soon? How long was I going to be here? My sons had never spent the night without me. A woman opened the door to the room we were in and called several names to stand and follow her. My name was one of them.

We were walked down a long hall through several locked doors and ushered into a bigger and brighter room much like the previous one, concrete block walls, block benches along the walls, a drinking fountain in one corner and a toilet in another. My eye was drawn to it. No privacy whatsoever. Thrown in a room together with no privacy, no contact, no personal kindness or respect, because we were accused of a crime.

I sat down in the first open spot on the bench. A woman with long black frizzy hair looked up at me as I sat down. She smiled and I smiled back. “First time?” “Yes,” I answered. “It’s ok. We’ll get dinner soon. How long have you been here?” I told her I wasn’t sure, I didn’t have a watch, but they had brought me to city jail early this morning. It was strange to sit among these women and talk like we were at the beauty parlor or a doctor’s office. Most of them seemed nice and a little worried. The subject of bail came up. I’m not sure how, but I distinctly remember saying that I was waiting for my husband to post bail. “How much did they set for you?” one woman asked. “$50,000,” I said. Several others looked up in surprise. “What in the world did you do?” “They accused me of armed robbery and attempted car-jacking.” I suddenly had an audience. The girl sitting next to me just stared at me. We all swapped stories for a bit and felt a little more at ease. These women were just like me. There was nothing to fear except the unknown.

Every so often, while we were talking, an officer would come to the door and call a few names. Those women would follow that officer down the hall. “Processing.” a woman said when I looked confused after them. “We’ll have our turn eventually.” In time my own name was called. I stood and followed the officer. We were led to a large open shower room, much like the gym showers in high school (which I had never used). Again there was absolutely no privacy. In threes, we went to a window where a female officer stood. They handed us prison clothes, instructed us how to use the shower, and informed us that we were required to use the soap they provided. We walked to a bench by each shower head, stripped down, showered for three minutes exactly, toweled off and put on our “uniform.” Our personal effects were picked up and put in a bag with our name and number. Then we were led to another large holding cell like the last.

I have to stop here for just a minute. At this point, I was mortified. I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever shared this part of my experience. This is how we treat humans, like animals in a cage. Before you mutter to yourself something about “That’s just what has to happen.” “You’re in jail, what do you expect?” “Unfortunate, but it’s for security.” or “Don’t get in trouble with the law and these things won’t happen.”, I have a few things to say. Everyone in this room is only ‘accused’ of a crime. They are supposed to be innocent until they are proven guilty. The only thing they are guilty of at this point is being unfortunate enough not to have been bailed out of jail until they can be tried for their alleged crime. Your mother or sister or daughter could have an unpaid parking ticket and be treated this way. I used to not care before this happened. I used to grumble the same statements before I learned, first hand, what our “justice” system does to people. I really have no words to describe how this experience changed me and my way of thinking. In some ways, I’m thankful for the education. In other ways, I weep for those who do not have resources and spend inordinate amounts of time in jail away from their families because of it.

I wasn’t thinking about this as I walked from the shower to the next holding cell. I was thinking only of remaining calm. I was terrified by stories of jails. I was haunted by the looks of my husband and children as I left. And I was filled with anxiety about what was going to happen to me next. I sat there, quietly praying. “Lord, protect me. Lord.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say but I did feel peace. If I had imagined this situation, I’d have seen myself falling apart in tears, holding my knees to my chest, hyperventilating or refusing to move. But here I was going through the motions, following instructions. I was not crying. I just sat there. And then they called my name. Bail had been paid. I was free to go.

Read the next chapter HERE.