As I sit here writing this, today marks the day exactly 25 years ago when the state of Florida did all they could to kill me. It was on this day that I awoke in that solitary cell only a few steps away from that cold gray solid steel door that led into the execution chamber where Florida’s infamous electric chair awaited. Has it really been that long ago? It doesn’t seem that so many years have already passed. As I’ve always heard it, time passes quickly when you’re having fun, but I damned sure haven’t had a lot of fun over these many years.
When I look around me, not much has really changed. I still awake each day in a solitary cell not all that different from the one in which I waited to die, and I’m still awaiting the uncertainty of my faith, knowing only too well that on any day now the governor could get a wild hair up his spineless ass and sign a new death warrant on me and so many others, especially since our names are on the recently submitted “death warrant eligible” list.
But perhaps the one thing that has changed is that I don’t really care whether they do or not. Somewhere along this never ending journey that I’ve been on, any “fear” of them coming to kill me has long ago faded away. As the years passed, I’ve even awoken more than too many days all but praying to whatever God it was that long ago abandoned me and the countless other lost souls warehoused around me, and “prayed” that the nightmare would end, even if that meant ending it by my death.
You have to love that paradox – them that so zealously imposed death upon me, all but foaming at their mouths like rabid dogs, truly believed that I was supposed to be somehow afraid to die, maybe even drop down to my knees and beg for mercy knowing all too well that them, consumed by vengeance are incapable of mercy. But in all thee years, not even once have I ever begged, and f they came to take me away tomorrow, I know I still wouldn’t beg and that the joke would be on them as I have long ago came to accept that if I cannot win my physical freedom through the politically corrupted courts (see www.southerninjustice.net ), then spiritual freedom from this hell that only man could create through physical death, would still be freedom.
Today I take a few minutes to look back on that long day and endless night when at 28 years old, I confronted my fate (you can read about my brush with death in my essays “The Day God Died” and also "Facing my own Execution" ) and thought was lucky to survive, only to learn that there truly are fates far worse than physical death – and that the quarter of a century that would follow that date with death would teach me only too well that had I known what I know today – that I would slowly rot away one day at a time and grow old and gray in a cold crypt of steel and stone, separated from and inevitably abandoned by all who once cared for me, I know without any doubt or a momentarily reservation that I would had made those cold blooded bastards kill me that day and spared myself the next 25 years.
But then again, even if I say those words, there’s that bigger part of me that, despite the circumstances, remains forever hopeful that the day will come when the corrupt courts will finally do the right thing and rule in my favor and after the long 30 years, I will find myself back out there in the real world, and allowed to live what’s left of my life as a free man.
Who knows what tomorrow might bring? But it’s the hope and dreams that keep all of us going. Sure, objectively speaking, anyone would agree that my life sucks. But no matter how bad it might get, there are countless others that are far worse. Although the negativity of my situation does drag me down at times, especially when I’m foolish enough to contemplate the circumstances. I also must remind myself that I am far more blessed than most of them I live among. Too many here in my world truly have been completely abandoned by all and as the years pass they retreat further and further into that dark shadow of their own minds, until one day all that remains is the flesh, as the mind and soul have slowly eroded away.
So, as I “celebrate” my 25th anniversary of a continued life despite their never-ending attempts to end it, I realize that I do have a measure of freedom far greater than that many in the real world out there don’t have – I am free to choose how I want to deal with my fate. No matter what evil the cold blooded society might inflict on me, I alone am the gatekeeper, deciding for myself whether I will allow this solitary journey to eat away at who I am until all that remains is anger and hopelessness – or I can choose to laugh in the face of death and embrace this unique growth experience as it comes. And today, in this moment I do laugh and if they come to kill me tomorrow, I will laugh again. And as long as I can still laugh in the face of death, I know that I alone remain the master of my own life and nothing they can do will break me, as if the past 25 years has taught me anything, it is the measure of strength within myself, and I am stronger than they can ever hope to be, knowing that what does not kill me can only make me stronger and that at the end of the day the only absolute reality is death and nobody gets out alive.