Birthday Behind Bars

May 18, 2013

My son turns 21 today.  Behind Bars.

He will celebrate with orange-jumpsuited strangers and armed guards.  His birthday meal will be served on a divided tray with plastic utensils. And there will be no cake, nor candles, nor song sung. He will celebrate alone.

The photo above is a picture of my son when he was just under a year old.  He loved to look out of the sliding glass door of our apartment which faced the forest.  He loved to hear the birds sing.  Today he is surrounded by cement walls and barbed wire.  He cannot hear the birds nor see the forest.  Instead, he is trapped inside a living hell filled with screaming inmates banging on bars and fights breaking out randomly all around him.  This is the reality of his life now.

He has been incarcerated since March 28 and it still hasn't completely sunk in.  Not to me.  Especially when I look at these pictures of my baby.  When I think of the days, weeks, months, years that led up to his incarceration, I have to remind myself that he made choices.  He chose not to accept his Bipolar Disorder diagnosis and seek treatment.  He chose to act impulsively, self-medicate with alcohol, and surround himself with people who didn't care about him or perhaps themselves.

I have to remind myself that this baby boy has grown into a man.  And this man has to face the consequences of his actions.  We still are awaiting the sentencing of his charges.  We still don't know what he will need to do to pay his debts to society for his foolish acts.  And everyday his reality is nothing like what he dreamed of staring out that sliding glass window.  There are no birds singing.  There is no forest to view.  Only cement and isolation.

Happy 21st Birthday my beautiful baby boy.  I love you.


  1. I'm so sorry for your struggle. You are strong and so level headed. Hopefully this will be his wake up call and he will come out a better man ready to accept his bipolar disorder and accept appropriate treatment.

  2. Thank you. That's my hope as well. So far, the signs are good that he's adjusting to treatment, medication, and acceptance. For now, at least I know where he is and that he's getting medication regularly. When he is released, that will be the true test. I'm still hopeful.