Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It Was Just So Cold

Welcome to entry #2 in my 49 Days of Grace series, which will be featured every Wednesday for 7 weeks. To catch up on my story, check out the My Journey tab at the top of this blog.

It was just so cold. With everything that was swirling around me, with all of the confusion and fear and hopelessness and anger, that is the thing I remember most about the first night I spent in jail in March of 2007. It was just so cold.  

I mentioned some of this in a previous post, but it bears repeating here for the purpose of clarity. When I was booked, I was given an orange and white striped jumpsuit that was way too small for my 6'4" inch frame. The pants were Capri length. Actually, because of how old and tattered they were, a better analogy might be that they looked like the Hulk's pants following his transformation. I was wearing white ankle socks that I was allowed to keep, but I was allowed no shoes. I was given 2 thin sheets and a towel that was the size of a hand towel from the linen closet at home. I was in a room by myself, but it had a bunk bed in it. I am not sure why this next fact surprised me, but it turns out that all the movies are correct- the toilet was a stainless steel bowl sitting in the middle of the back of the cell. It didn't take long for me to become very aware that the air vent was blowing like it was cooling an entire house, when it fact it was only a 10 x 8 cell. As I looked up at the vent, I noticed that there were giant globs of toilet paper stuck to the ceiling all around the vent grate. Previous occupants had wet toilet paper and thrown these masses at the vent seeking to block the air. It didn't work, and several times that first night I was startled at the sound of the globs falling from the ceiling. It seemed that the temperature continued to drop as the night wore on. I was shivering and freezing and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't sleep. I had previously lived in Massachusetts and Chicago, but that night was the coldest I have ever been. I am known for being someone who is never cold. But that night, it was just so cold...

And then it got worse. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that when my skin finally made contact with the stainless steel for the first time it was actually painful. Remember the scene in A Christmas Story where the kid licks the metal pole? I  was afraid I was stuck. It was awful. Going back to bed was no better. I usually sleep on two pillows. I had none. I used my folded towel as a pillow, leaving me one sheet for cover. I laid in bed, starred at the bunk bed above me, tried to avoid the falling TP- and contemplated how I had arrived at such a place in my life. It was hard to believe that night that there was anyway I could be forgiven by my family or my God. The grace I had taught about for so long seemed like a bad theological concept, not a reality of the love of God's whose name is Jesus. It was difficult to imagine that anything could be worse that that moment, freezing in a jail cell, separated from everyone I loved and feeling like a total failure. My only consolation  was that everyone I had encountered told me I was only there for one night. I held on to that hope as I tried to stop shivering and go to sleep. It turned out to be a false hope, as 48 more night lay ahead of me. You can read more about that next week. But I can tell you this- it never got warmer.  It was just so cold...

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous3/28/2012

    Your courage in sharing your story- the highs and the lows- never ceases to amaze me. Love you.

  2. This makes me hurt for you. I am always cold. I can't even imagine. So amazed by your courage. And so thankful for your friendship.

  3. As I am thankful for yours, Amy. Thanks so much for being a part of the blessings of my life!


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!