First, I must apologize for the picture I am about to share because of what it has done to me and what it will likely do to you. I’ve carefully searched through my stack of pictures to find the one that would vividly illustrate the loss that violence brings, but there were no photos to properly convey the gravity of what I’d like to share. So, I have no choice but to paint one, a picture painted in words.
Long before I stepped inside a prison cell, I knew firsthand what violence could take away. Most think they do too, but I want to share another look, an intimate one.
Violence is the voice of my three little sisters saying to me with tears in their eyes, “Are you going to jail? What did you do?”
Violence is my little nephew telling his Nana that if he eats all of his vegetables, his muscles will turn to rocks because all he remembers of his uncle is squeezing my arms inside a prison visiting room.
Violence is my baby sister, who received the brunt end of my affection, crying as she blew out the candles of her birthday cake because all she wished for was her big brother to come home.
Violence is the aftermath of me taking another person’s life and a death certificate that reads, ‘Parents too distraught to sign’.
Violence is the real emptiness that is left behind.
Violence is the guttural sound that escaped my mother’s lips when the judge gave me a ‘life sentence’.
Violence is the lie I told my mother after the trial when I said, “Momma, everything’s going to be alright.”
Violence is the sum of years that I’ve spent trying to atone for something for which there is no atonement. It is the tears that stream down my face and stain this page as I write.
Violence is the picture I’ve painted with words, a picture of the true horror and great despair that I can never erase. I only hope and pray that no one will ever have to paint on this canvas for themselves, because violence is not the answer.
Written by Darrell Sharpe #W80709
P.O. Box 43
Norfolk, MA 02056