Creative Commons License
Super Friends by Whitney Holwadel Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at Super Friends: October 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Letters to and from Whit

If anyone is interested in receiving a .pdf of Whit's entire blog together with letters we wrote to each other interleaved with the entries, you can email me directly (or leave a comment here if I already have your email address). Be advised that with the letters it's 228 pages long (and I didn't even include all the letters we wrote during the time he was blogging).  I also have printed/spiral wire bound copies.

Friday, October 8, 2010

From Tiny

Those of you who followed Whit's blog from the beginning, or who have read it in its entirely since his passing, will know who Tiny is: Whit's best friend at Terre Haute, who from the very having been released last December. He's home in Centerville, OH, and we see each other frequently. He's a real friend.

Gerry is in school in Dayton, majoring in social work with a specialty in drug and alcohol counseling. Below is the text of an essay he wrote recently for a class. Whit would be pleased and proud to share his blog with his good friend in this way. Thanks for sharing this, Gerry.

I spent nine years in prison. Upon my release I came back into a society that I knew nothing about; it was like being on a different planet. The experiences I have had  during these nine months have been both frustrating and rewarding.
My first trip to Meier was especially challenging. I entered the store and was dumbfounded. Before I went to prison, grocery shopping didn’t involve the need of a road map to locate what I was shopping for. I was just trying to buy soap, deodorant, and other basic hygiene items. My plan allowed for this simple task to take ten minutes, in reality it took forty-five minutes to navigate the many aisles of this grocery extravaganza and find the intended items. I am lucky I chose to go during the day because following the sunlight was the only way I was able to locate the front of the store. I didn’t even attempt to try using the self-check out machine, assuming that it was beyond the scope of my abilities. Since my first experience at Meier, I have made numerous expeditions back into the store and have even mastered the use of the self-check out machine, Although it had me on the run for awhile.
 The internet was my next endeavor into modern society. I was somewhat familiar with how computers operate but I had never been on the internet. I sat down in front on my mother’s home computer and attempted to figure out how to gain access to the menu. I deduced that the “start” button might be a good place to begin. Through past knowledge I knew that the controller by my right hand was used to move the arrow across the screen and so I used it to open the start menu. Having gotten this far without much difficulty I assumed that the rest of my journey to the internet would not be very troublesome. Looking at the menu I didn’t notice a selection that said “hey stupid, this button will get you to the internet”, so I proceeded to click on one choice after another until I came to right one. Having used such a scientific method to accomplish my last task, I was completely flustered as to what to do next. About this time my brother Chris walks into the room so I ask him”what do I type in to get to the internet.” He finds my question hilarious and after his bout of laughter he says “anything you want.” Seeing the puzzled look on my face he explains that I just need to type in whatever I am trying find out about and click search. So I sat there for a minute considering my options and then typed “time machine” because at that point I really felt like going back in time.
My most rewarding experience thus far was getting to meet and spend time with my nephew. My brother Dan and his family came from Chicago for a visit. I didn’t know what to expect because my relationship with my family has been strained because of my incarceration. When they arrived I was gone at a doctor’s appointment, so everyone was a little more relaxed by the time I got there. When my nephew whose name is Charlie saw me he came right up to me and asked “who are you?” I told him I was his uncle Gerry and without hesitation he hugged me. He is only two years old so the only thing I think that mattered to him was that he had another uncle. The whole time they were there Charlie was always hanging on me and wanting me to play with him and it was the greatest feeling in the world as far as I am concerned.
In conclusion, reentering society after so many years of incarceration has had its frustrating moments. But as  time passes I am finding that these discouraging events have less and less impact on my life. My focus is on the future and rebuilding my life out of the wreckage of my past.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The old house

This afternoon I went over to the house where Whit and his sister grew up. It was the first time I'd been there since Whit's passing, and it was just an unusual chain of events that brought me there.

It was hard, very hard. Various memories of Whit's childhood come and go all the time, of course, but it's an altogether different thing when you stand in front of the house and observe how ALL of it comes flooding into your mind at once. Birthday parties; reading bedtime stories; that first day of school, getting on the bus at the bottom of the hill; a swing set; family meals; and blissful ignorance of the future. Sure, there were difficult times as well. And I spent the last year in the house alone after Whit's mother moved out, and Whit was spending 8th grade at Howe Military School. So I don't need to be told that my memory is always selective in favor of just the good things, as some people in my life typically allege. But if I didn't choose to focus on the positive side of things and on the potential for good rather than negative outcomes, I wouldn't have been able to be there for Whit through it all.

But of course I'm crushed that all the active love and support weren't enough to avert Whit's death. I'm pretty much damaged goods by this time, and there doesn't seem to be a future worth hoping for or saving now. There's no way I can approach life the same way I did before Whit's death. As for the past, memories are painful, not helpful or consoling. I can't even listen to the same music I did before that existential watershed; songs that used to move me deeply now just represent a painful disconnect between what used to be and what is now. My capacity for passion is diminished to near nothing. Even checking this blog daily is becoming an exercise in disappointment. I remember how I used to check the stat counter several times a day so I could let Whit know how many new readers, how many pageloads he had. After his death there was a fairly long period of very heavy activity; and in recent weeks the number of readers has dwindled to near zero. Hardly anyone new is hearing about the blog, and the old readers have little reason to come back. Whit's voice is fading, and even those who were really close to him through the blog seem to have put the 'episode' behind them, and I don't hear from them any more. C'est la vie, and c'est la mord.