My son, Jay has been locked up for twenty-three years and is doing life. He received ninety-nine years for assaulting a guard while at the Coffield Unit. When he was sentenced, I wanted to lay down and die. Even after so many years, I still have a hole in my heart.

My ex-husband and I adopted him when he was three days old. He was our world and enjoyed a privileged life. We were involved in both school and sports activities. Jay excelled in both. He was an obedient, polite, and non-violent son. He had a happy childhood. When he was thirteen, his Dad left. I never worked outside the home until then. We did okay for a few years but then he got into drugs as a teen. I did everything I could to help him: treatment (five times), therapy, tough love, you name it. But he still ended up in prison.

When he was first locked up, I was a guilt sponge, blaming myself. I even went as far as to believe that if another family had adopted him it might’ve been different. I never drank or did drugs and I know in my heart that I was a good mother. I finally realized that it wasn’t me who was to blame. Still, I was ashamed to tell anyone where my son was, so I buried myself in my career and stuffed my feelings. No matter what though, they always resurfaced.

The first few years, I touched on many painful emotions: a broken heart, anger, shame, guilt, and just pissed off at the world, thinking how unfair life is.

I overcame it, however, with God and my son.

When my son was spiraling out of control in Houston, I prayed that he wouldn’t die in the streets before he found his salvation. Well, my prayers were answered.

My son is alive: he loves the Lord and is going to Heaven. I have come to terms with him being in prison. He is positive and he inspires me. He said, “Mom, one day we will be together in heaven.” That keeps me going.

After twenty-three years it does get easier. I’m at peace now, but still sad. One day Jay asked, “When I got locked up, why did the family act like I died?” That makes me sad, but it is what it is. I also know he doesn’t belong there for so long. Most of the people in prison are not bad people, they’ve just made bad choices.

My suggestion to families is to trust God; don’t stuff your feelings, blame yourself, be ashamed or embarrassed. Know that one day there will be a happy ending either on earth or on the other side. Be thankful that you have them.

Let them know you love them, visit when you can, but live your life.

God bless you and your loved one. I feel you!

Sharon Slaymaker is the mother of J.S. Slaymaker who can be contacted here:

J.S. Slaymaker #634548

Wynne Unit

810 FM 2821

Huntsville, TX