Here I am sitting in the dayroom just about 10 feet from my bunk area thinking about what I should write. If I seem to ramble on, please forgive me. I've been thinking about those of you who have sent emails telling me how my words have helped and impacted your lives.
I have one reader in Houston, Texas who wrote me saying that her indiscretion could have cost her a positive HIV diagnosis and her marriage. Through my words, she has sought forgiveness from her husband and family. I certainly like being appreciated and I'm sure you do as well. In a million years, I never would have thought I'd be able to reach out to you through my words while lost in the prison system. I can't believe my words could have so much meaning. Thank you "C"!
Recently I had a 60-minute video visit with a gentleman all the way over in jolly old England. He is a great man with a personality that is just electric! I can use our video visiting kiosk through www.gettingout.com to visit anywhere in the world. I am looking forward to seeing this man again in a couple of months to catch up on life and change the world and how they think about people with HIV. I know you are reading this "B.G.", I'll see you soon!
I heard from Pastor Joseph from a church in North Hollywood, Calif. a while back and he was shocked to hear that I am still locked up for non-disclosure and asked what he can do to expedite my release. I wrote and told him that I have a clemency application pending in front of the governor of Oregon, and he can write her asking to grant my request. Thank you for writing me, Pastor! I hope your letter helps, and I can be a free man once again.
There is an HIV educator based out of Pittsburgh, Pa., who is also an advocate who wrote me a while back. He has a heart of gold, and I am so lucky that he wants to be friends with me! He and I have been exchanging emails via Access Corrections, and this service isn't free. How generous is that? He can buy up to 60 emails for under $14 and then we can correspond directly. Thank you "M.H."! I am grateful for your friendship.
Another advantage of having a line to the outside world is that I can correspond with an editor over at Philadelphia Fight to submit articles for Prison Health News, which gets circulated all over the place. People can log on and sign up for the eNewsletter and possibly see my latest article.
I got an email from a Brazilian man who found out his HIV status while working in Peru. If you are reading this, please tell me how you are doing with the new diagnosis? I want to know that you are OK and dealing with this with the support of friends and family when you have returned home to Brazil. I will keep you in my heart and prayers "R". Write soon.
There was a guy who was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 who struggled with meth since 2002. If you are reading this "C.G.", I have been wondering how you are doing with your illness and your sobriety? I too had issues with drugs and alcohol. This coming April 5th, I will have 18 years clean and sober. Keep your head up and drop me a line when you can.
I had heard from a lady "T.B.", who lost her brother to AIDS-related complications. I wanted to say that I am sorry for your loss. I hope that your life is going well, and you reach out to someone with HIV to share your brother's story honoring his memory. Just because he isn't on this Earth anymore doesn't mean he can't live on in your heart. I'd like to hear from you some time and know you are OK.
That's just an example of the lovely things I get from people in the free world who take the time to write me. To all of you reading this and those of you who wrote me, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! I am encouraged that there are decent human beings in the world who are willing to care about other people beside themselves. Even a guy like me who made mistakes and is not part of society. You are awesome, and I appreciate you!