Describing my life in one sentence would be impossible although I’m often asked to do so. From juggling phone calls from clients to answering emails, addressing concerns and bouncing from one event to the next while addressing my family, the best sentence I could use would be “I’m never bored.”
Monday while filing licenses in three counties and meeting clients at Parker and Palo Pinto Counties, I resent my credentials to Lasalle. Each year in Texas, I recertify my credentials with TDCJ as well as federal facilities. For some reason, Texas is the only state that has this particular requirement. I had faxed Lasalle last week but apparently my paperwork was misplaced. This issue has been resolved.
One of my clients was confused regarding “needing permission to marry at an ICE Facility.” For anyone else unaware of the process, I’m including the link- ICE Detention Standards.
There is a process to marry at any State or Federal Facility. An ICE Facility also has protocol and procedure in place that must be strictly adhered to.
Arriving in Huntsville Tuesday to meet my beautiful bride, we walked in together and out of the pouring rain. Her day had finally come and her joy was evident. As usual, Unit photos are always hit and miss at Holliday.
The background of the wall doesn’t photograph as well as the plain wall at Holliday but due to the tables and chairs in the room, we worked with what we had. Leaving Holliday, my bride followed me to a nearby shopping center where I handed her an umbrella. The dreary day of non stop rain didn’t dampen her smile though and her beauty sparkled like a rainbow.
I always pack a spare umbrella. I’m adding several bridal umbrellas to our inventory for Spring. Wednesday I left Fort Worth in the rain to again nearly drive to Huntsville. This turnaround trip is a regular occurrence for me. Whether I’m in Huntsville one day and Houston the next, I’ve driven 287 to 45 so many times I could probably drive it blindfolded. There are many Units in Huntsville as well as the Houston area.
My Ferguson bride met me at Buccees. A huge truck stop styled tourist destination. Everyone loves Buccees including all three of my grandnieces.
I followed Rosalinda to Ferguson where we were screened in and escorted to the visitation area. She was nervous and worried about crying. After hearing why, I understood her sorrow. The groom was serving a life sentence. This is a heavy cross for loved ones to bear.
As we waited for the guard to print her wedding photos, Rosalinda told me that her groom had recently been the storyline of Marriage & Murder. I had never heard of it but, I married Miguel Martinez at Hughes Unit unaware he had been featured on I’m A Killer. I don’t ask questions. Why inmates are incarcerated is none of my business. Occasionally though my clients share this information. I rarely watch TV and when I do it’s Matlock, Columbo or 80’s shows. For a few years Cindy and I watched CSI Las Vegas. But as a whole I’m not a tv watching person.
I cannot imagine how helpless and painful it would be to watch a show about someone you love. I cannot imagine the loneliness and isolation my clients marrying a lifer face. You will always hear me say how strong my clients are because it’s true. They are warriors. I’ve married people for eight years now. Very few people I’ve married to an inmate have divorced. How few? 3 out of hundreds. On the outside? 3 as well. 6 divorced in eight years out of over 2k weddings surprise people. But I’m a friend, a counselor, a shoulder long after the wedding. My role surpasses that of any traditional Officiant. I care about my clients.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and for over a thousand of my clients it’s a day they will spend alone. There won’t be romantic dinners or expensive gifts but there will be love. They will drive long distances to visits this weekend. They will jump when the phone rings. They will also hold love in their hearts and determination in their souls.
As usual, I’m working on one of my busiest days of the year. I will move from Green Bay to Marlin to Mercado to Belltower to the Omni.
I will witness the promise of love after lock up as I have hundreds of times before. I will also pray my clients arrive safely home on a lonely journey after leaving a Unit Wedding. I will worry about my clients. I will take their calls for the rest of my life. I will celebrate their victories and mourn their sorrows. They are a fabric of my life…