Interview with a Death Row Wife…

I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, so I figured with Mardi Gras break here in New Orleans, now would be a great time to catch up on my blogging. Well, then came the writer’s block…what topic should I do? Nothing out of the ordinary to report here, but then it came to me…what if I got some questions from friends that were curious about what was life like being death row prison wife? I told them that any and all questions were open to discuss. Some are standard questions, deep questions, and very emotional questions, but I was prepared to answer most of them (I say most because some were about M’s case, and I didn’t feel comfortable discussing his case while he’s in the appeals process).

So brace yourself…it’s going to be a wild and possibly bumpy ride, but here we go folks. I am going to post the questions in order of relevance.

1. How do you handle your loved one being on death row? Has there been a time when you felt like walking away? How would you handle receiving a pending execution date? What do you do to keep your husband mind off his situation? It’s definitely a hard pill to swallow. I knew what I was getting into though because I chose to write to a death row inmate because of my beliefs on capital punishment. That’s not to say it’s easy, because it’s far from it. I would never wish this life upon anyone, nor would I have thought in a million years I would be here today in this situation. And yes, I do think about leaving. To be honest, I think about it alot. Only because in today’s society, we are selfish individuals and when things get tough, it’s so easy to throw in the towel and say “this isn’t working for me anymore.” But is that true love? No. True love means good times and bad times, and till death do us part. I haven’t had to think alot about a pending execution date, but if he did have one, I would be there through it all fighting to get him off death row as I do today. To keep his mind off the situation, we talk about other things. He’s a really positive, beautiful soul that doesn’t let things get him down too often. It’s really the only way to survive a life on death row, so he’s my rock and we just talk about silly things. I will say that he loves my corny, cheesy not-so-funny jokes. His favorite? “What do you call a guy with a Rubber toe?….Roberto but funny

2. Would you be there for the date? I get this question a lot, and my Hubby Bear and I seriously disagree here on this matter. I told him I would be there till the end, hand on the glass, letting him know that I am there till his last minute and breath, that I love him and he’s the other half of my sky, and that I would see him on the other side one day. He doesn’t want me there, he doesn’t want me to see him strapped to the table, but I know if it were me, I would want someone, especially my other half, there with me in my final moments. 

3. If you had to do this all over again would you? Yes and no. If it meant that I meet someone like M again in my lifetime, absolutely. He’s the other half of me in every way imaginable. The “No” comes in because I don’t think I’d ever like to have another prison relationship again. Like I said, this life can be painful at times, so painful indeed, so I would love to be with M, but if I could remove the prison equation out of it, I definitely would. However, I believe God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, so I know if I had to re-do everything, and got M in the end, I would be here…

4. How do you handle your financial situation being that you have bills and then a loved one to support? What are your limits? All prison wives feel the financial burden of having to put money on the books to support their loved ones, it’s no different here. I am so blessed to have an amazing job, however, I sometimes struggle to help M out. The great thing about M is that he’s got other family and friends that will help him out if he needs it. This somewhat takes to burden off of me at times. There have been months where I had panic attacks because I was living paycheck-to-paycheck. M is amazing in that when he sees me struggling, he gets down in the trenches with me. If it means going without a meal (because prison food is the worst- you wouldn’t feed it to your dogs), or working extra hard on artwork, he will do it. We have had to put a halt on the phone calls (our biggest expense) when things got tough, limiting ourselves to only one phone call a night. But overall, if we can’t do it, we both go without. Together.

5. People usually stay on death row for a long time. Is there any chance of him having his sentence changed? Is there anything in the works? Is it a subject that y’all talk about often? Is he scared? The good news here is that there is a great chance he will get off death row. In fact, there are talks and rumors in this state that Death Row will be a thing of the past (it costs the state too much money and they can’t procure the drugs). This would mean that M would get LWOP (Life without parole), a way better situation because he is a first- time offender and would be able to do work and educational/vocational programs the prison offers. However, we believe he has a shot to get something better. I can’t say much on this topic (for legal reasons), but I can say he does have things working in his favor. We talk about it alot because he gets legal visits every few months or so. Plus, I try and stay up on all legal news around the country and state when it comes to his parish (county) and capital punishment. Hope is on the horizon. “Gotta have that epic faith,” as M always says.

6. How do you cope with sleeping alone every night. How do you cope with not being able to pick up the phone and being able to call him just to ask how his days going. How do you cope with it being Valentine’s Day on Wednesday and having to hope that nothing goes wrong and he can make that “date night?” Yikes, I really haven’t coped with sleeping alone every night. It’s still one of the hardest things for me. I joke around and talk about Ted, my Costco 6 ft Teddy Bear I sleep with, but it’s never been something I’ve been able to adjust to. It’s the one thing I wish I had, and I know I would never take it for granted ever again if M was able to come home to me. The phone situation sucks, but that is something I’ve learned to be able to handle, especially with them getting emails fairly quickly and having hall time to call. If it’s an emergency, I just send M an email and he gets back to me pretty quickly. Plus, it’s nice to have other Death Row WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) relay messages to M if I have an issue. And about Valentine’s Day, yes it’s an important day, but we don’t need a day to define our love. It maybe a cliche’ but I have truly learned the to enjoy the “Little blessings” in this relationship, regardless of what day it is. Contact visits are the biggest of those. Being able to feel  his arms around me, rubbing my back and us giving each other little kisses for a few hours is like Valentine’s Day times 10. I tell you, going without those everyday things people take for granted really shifts things into a whole other perspective. You have to find the joys in the things you do have. So this Valentine’s Day, I plan on spoiling myself by ordering a pizza, having a glass of wine, and having a date night on the phone with Hubby Bear. M said, “We can’t be together physically this year for Valentine’s Day, but I am there emotionally and spiritually.” I can’t ask for more than that. His dedication is to us is unbelievable and amazing that it trumps just one day on February 14th.

-So these are all the questions I received, if you have any more, please feel free to comment or post below. I’d be happy to answer them or discuss any of my answers with yall.

  • Gratitude and blessings,
    • Angela


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