I’m sitting at a long grey steel table in the corner of Jail Cell #02SH15, Dallas County. Immediately in front of me is a wall of 99 – 1 1/2″ square tubing steel bars on 6″ centers. They are turned diagonally, individually to my right are 73 identical bars with a pair of heavy, heavy electronic gates in the rear corner. The other two walls are 17 cinder blocks high, grey and off white in color. The top of the cage consists of identical 1 1/2″ square tubing bars on 6″centers. The top of the cage is 12′ in height. I’m wearing a pair of dirty white boxer shorts and sweating. So are the other 23 men here with me. Rodrick Hubbard looks on as I write.
Separation – The bars are obviously physically separating me from you. Hard to accept, yes. The steel however, will not give way. I must accept the truth about my condition, I am separated from you . . . today.
Separation has come to mean far more to me than the mere physical compartmentalization of individuals. This separation seems endless, but I know that it is but a mist, a season of time. I believe this too shall pass. This time has given me pause to consider however, eternal separation.
That is how Richard Eldrich must have felt. Mr. Eldrich is the embodiment of alcoholism. He is hunched over and shuffles. He has scruffy ash -grey whiskers covering his withering facial features. His cheeks are sunken, withdrawn into his empty mouth with only 3 teeth remaining. They are located on the right side of his upper pallet. His lower teeth are terribly black, yellow and decaying. It is his eyes however, that tell the real story.
When I look at Mr. Eldrich, I really try to study him, to see his soul. I can almost see it, as a look into his narrow, slightly crossed eyes. The eyes themselves are recessed behind a puffy round nose. They are glassy blue grey with ever so soft tiny pupils. His eyes fall off at the corners, pointing downward. I suppose you could say he has sad “clown” eyes, yet there was little laughter in the time I knew Richard.
He arrived a day after me, about June 13 and he was lost from the start. As I became aware of this lonely ghostly figure I noted how out of place he appeared. He must have understood that I cared about him almost immediately as I began to speak with him, he needed help. He didn’t know what happened to him. He didn’t know why he was here. He barely understood where he was. He began to cry. . as I put my arm around his slumping shoulder he reached out and pulled me to him like a long lost brother. We spent the next two weeks virtually inseparable as I offered him consolation in this environment.
Richard was very scared. Very fearful of the men and his lack of understanding. He couldn’t comprehend what the lawyers or the judge were telling him and had a different story to tell each time he returned from court. He was more and more reluctant to leave my side. Tears drizzled down his haggard face regularly, mine followed in genuine concern for my slightly retarded old friend.
We got along ok, my parents have happily provided ample funds for me to help other men here who are hungry and indigent. Thank you mom and dad for helping Mr. Eldrich.
Richard told me all about his home life about his older brother that he shares a bed with and about his sister who is in the State Penn. But mostly, Mr. Richard talked about his momma. My how Richard “Bubba” loved momma! He couldn’t hold back the torrent of tears at the mere mention of the word momma. I showed him a picture of my family and told him I missed them so deeply, like he must miss his “momma”. We shared our pain as he clutched my shoulders and buried his salty face in my chest. Poor Bubba, everyday it seemed like he was going to be released so he could be with momma. Day after day passed, however, and he remained here, with me instead of momma.
Bubba knows separation. Bubba can’t bare any more separation. Bubba will not be separated from momma anymore.
Today they were reunited. Glory
The pain of earthly separation is overwhelming, immobilizing for me on some days. To consider however, eternal separation is unthinkable. Truly unimaginable.
I speak of the eternal separation from God that some will know when Christ blazes to earth to rescue those of us who have called upon His name for salvation.
How can I stand idly by and longer and watch as the “Bubbas” of this world are eternally separated from their Heavenly “Momma”, our God?
The urgency burns through me moment by moment.
Time stands still for no man, as they say. You see Mr. Eldrich at 46, is only 1 year my senior. There but by the grace of God goes Alan.
May God bless Bubba and Momma and all those in danger of eternal separation.