Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas in prison: A waltz

Christmas Eve, nearly midnight. I was nestled all safe in my bed, thinking about the people I love, searching for gratitude in the light of Christmas. I thought about my brother Mark and how he used to give me a huge hug every Christmas Eve, how I have missed him the past four years. I tried to remember his face and what came to me, like one of Ebenezer Scrooge’s horrific ghosts, was the photo of his face they put up on the big screen in the courtroom during his murder trial. It was his autopsy photograph. I don’t want to remember that, but I do.

And earlier that evening I had a Pandora Christmas station playing and I heard the simple, bittersweet John Prine song Christmas in Prison. It inspired me to get out my banjo and play all the John Prine songs I know. And Christmas in Prison was still stuck in my brain when I thought about my little brother Mark and cursed the horrible man who murdered him. At least the Maryland justice system has put the murderer in prison for many years. He spent another Christmas in prison, but my family spent another Christmas without my brother. The empty place will always be empty. And I hummed the John Prine song, a beautiful waltz, and revised the lyrics. I don’t know if my anger will ever go away. I don’t know if I can ever completely forgive the man who took my brother’s life. I don’t even try any longer—I just figure it’s between him and God. I’m glad at least he had another Christmas in prison.
Christmas in Prison: A Waltz (with a plea to the genius songwriter John Prine for indulgence)
It was Christmas in prison
As you sat in your cell
Living a nightmare
Rotting in hell
May you dream of him always
Even when you don't dream
May his memory haunt you
And his death make you scream.
Wait, just wait for eternity
Pray that God's mercy will soon set you free
Pray to Him
Plead with Him
Fall to your knees
His mercy
The goodness
Of God

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