On October 22, 2013 I celebrated my 5th year of freedom, wow has it been an amazing five years. The best part has been being able to make a difference not only in my local community but across the U.S.
I was reflecting on what it felt like the moment they told me to pack my things since I was supposed to be released on the 17th of October since that is when the Judge had ordered my release. I heard the officer call my name on the PA system and tell me to roll it up, I had been waiting for five days to hear that and I could not believe it was even real.
As I came around the corner at 5:15 p.m. that evening the first face I saw was the director and producer of “Sin By Silence”, Olivia Klaus. What an amazing sight for sore eyes. It was 93 degrees outside and I had been released in khaki colored cords and a zip-up seat jacket that said “Venice Beach” CA on the front of it. It was hotter than all get out. Olivia offered me her over blouse since she had another one on underneath. What could I say but what a relief.
As we waited for my attorney’s to show up Olivia asked if I would like to call my son and let him know that I was free, she handed me her cell phone not realizing I had no clue how to use one after being away for 26 years. Needless to say after some trial and error on my part I got to speak to my son for the first time without having to call collect, and on a cell phone how cool was that.
We finally left Lynn Wood County Jail and I was treated by my legal team from Latham and Watkins to a steak dinner. Most people would think I would want to celebrate with champagne however I was never one to drink and I had no doubt one drink would make me drunk.
The first night I spent at my attorney’s mother’s house who had worked so tirelessly on my case for four years. It felt strange to sleep in a bed a real bed I might add, not a metal slab with a 3″ mattress on it.
The following morning I was picked-up by Olivia who took me to Venice beach, she went to the lifeguard station and procured a sand wheelchair and took me to the water I had dreamed of for so many years feeling it run over my feet and all I could do was laugh and cry all at the same time. The feeling of freedom was tangible and took my breath away.
After being on the beach for a while she took me to breakfast at an outdoor café just before the pier area, it was the most amazing food I had ever eaten. From there we went shopping at Target and made a day of it, memories that will last me a lifetime.
Over the past five years now I am reminded of the awesome people in my life who have been there for me since my release and before my release; my big sister Roxann, David, Rabbi Miriam, Shayna & Eli, Olivia, Adam, Judy, and several others whom if I did not mention you that does not mean I appreciate you any less than the ones I did mention. Without the core people in my life I would not have the chance to be living my dream today.
Today, Every 9 Seconds a domestic violence non-profit would not have happened without all the wonderful people who believed in me and gave me their unending support. I am grateful, honored and humbled by my freedom and the blessing of the amazing people in my life.
I ache for my sisters I left behind and I want to continue to fight for their freedom so they too can feel the water wash across their feet and the arms of their loved ones wrapped around them without fear of having their visit terminated for too much contact.
Thank you, each one of you whose names I mentioned and those I have not as you too know who you are for all you have done for me.
I AM FREE, I AM GRATEFUL, I AM HUMBLE!