Two if by Train

I arrived at the prison just past 1:45 and with my father-in-law at my side, entered the same double doors that I had  72 times before for visits. My heart was pounding in my chest. My body trembled. But as I looked at the guard on duty I felt myself relax. Of all the corrections officers our family has had interaction with, this was the most genial. He greeted me politely commenting, “You look like a bride.” My simple white linen dress has elicited that comment before, which was partly why I had chosen it for this occasion.

I smiled, thanked him and said the words I’d been waiting to say for over 3 years. “I’m here to pick up my husband, Joel Price. He is to be released today.” After a brief phone call, he told me it would be a few minute wait as they processed Joel out. Then with uncharacteristic kindness he allowed us to wait in the entry room and even visited with us as we waited. As I had anticipated this day, it had never occurred to me to pray that a polite guard would be on duty. God had answered a prayer, I hadn’t had the forethought to pray!

Not 20 minutes later I heard the click of the double locked doors from the prison yard. And then Joel was standing before me, beyond the walls that had in the words of Roman “trapped” him in for 3 years. Capturing the emotions of that moment with words would be impossible. We both looked at one another in awe, drinking in the sensation of freedom.

At least 2 days of freedom. Two days after more than three years of separation. The most bittersweet of gifts. Precious, priceless, and poignant.

The boys and Joel’s mom were waiting for us at the car. Then it was hugs all around with three boys vying for two spots on either side of daddy for the short ride to the restaurant, where 24 members of our family waited to welcome Joel. What a reunion! Tears of joy, laughter, prayer, and praise. My heart is full to overflowing as I think of the ones most precious to me in all this world gathering around Joel and I in loving support and celebration. What a contrast from the day three years previous when we had stood together at Joel’s hearing. And yet, what a comparison as well. Christ’s body, surrounding us in love. Weeping with us as we have wept, and rejoicing with us as we now rejoice.

Joel and I cherished every moment of our two day train trip from Jesup to Milwaukee. We arrived this afternoon at the halfway house where Joel will be staying for the next few months. Our good by was eased by the warm and matter-of-fact welcome that Joel received from the administrator. But tonight as I crawl into bed alone again, my heart aches. Two beautiful days together have reminded me of all the things I’ve been missing these past years. And it’s a painful reminder. My heart longs for–prays for–the day when this will end and Joel will be with us at home for good. And I know today we are one step closer to that.

5 Responses to "Two if by Train"

  • I’ve had a knot in my throat all day yesterday as Steve was recounting the train station visit with you and Joel. Praising God for your family’s reunion, and praying for you all during this time of transition and healing, Tabitha. Sending you big hugs until I can personally give you one! You are a BEAUTIFUL bride!

    1 Yvy Duckhorn said this (June 29, 2012 at 9:10 am) Reply

    • Thanks, Yvy. I can’t wait to hang out a bit together! Love you and sure appreciate your care and prayers!

      2 Tabitha Joy said this (June 29, 2012 at 9:21 am) Reply

  • Rejoicing with you! (any other words are inadequate)

    3 Jessica said this (June 29, 2012 at 9:41 am) Reply

  • Oh Tabitha…I wept as I read your blog. We who have prayed with you’ll all during this can truly rejoice with you. I savor the preciousness of those moments of reunion and ‘release’ makes me think of that day when we the Bride of Christ will meet Him face to face!! It is of course impossible to put either meeting in adequate words.Love in Him, Faye

    4 Faye Walz said this (June 30, 2012 at 11:47 am) Reply

  • Your letter brought tears and touch my heart is such a precious way. Thank you for sharing your life and how God is working through you.
    We will continue to pray for your precious family.
    Hugs, Patti

    5 Patti Edwards said this (June 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm) Reply

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