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THIS TOO SHALL PASS (both the bad and the good)

This too shall pass. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me during my seven year odyssey through all the  facets of the criminal justice system, it would have covered my settlement with the bankruptcy trustee! Well not quite but close. Whenever anyone wanted to offer words of support and consolation to me  he would remind that "This too shall pass." In other words, there will be a time when this chapter of your life will finally be over. Of course, none of them know when that will be, but that is another matter. The message is look forward, better times they are a'comin.

Indeed, the most common use of this saying is to remember that these bad times are merely temporary. At least that is what I used to think. One day, as my bunkmate at the camp was changing his shirt, and no I do not make it a habit to ogle other other men as they change (not there's anything wrong with that) I noticed he had a tattoo on his arm with that very saying. Up to that point I really thought this was a translation of a Jewish saying, yet this person  was not jewish; he did however, have a Jewish last name. In any event, I asked him if he got it when his criminal case started so that he can focus on the future. After I reassured him that he was not bunking with a homosexual who had a  crush on him, he told me that this was in-fact not the case at all. He told me that he got the tattoo when his daughter was born to remind him to treasure every moment with her as she grows up.  Kids, he reminded me, often grow up way to fast. That brief conversation altered by entire way of thinking and offers a poignant lesson for anyone in the midst of a prolonged criminal investigation or any challenge for that matter.

They key challenge for any defendant is balancing the need to be a responsible parent and enjoying life while at the same time being able to focus on the case. To sacrifice family time can be as damaging if not more damaging than not focusing on the case. Irreparable damage can be done by being an irresponsible parent, and there are no do-overs. On the other hand if one does not focus on his case, it may or may not have a meaningful influence on its outcome, but at least he will have strong family support when the legal troubles come to an end

When my case broke, my eldest had just started 1st grade, my second child was in pre-k and my youngest was not to be born for another three months. When my prison term concluded, my eldest was graduating 8th grade, my second was finishing 6th grade and my youngest was finishing 1st grade. Taken another way, my youngest, who was not yet born when my trials and tribulations began, was older than my oldest was at that time! My oldest's entire elementary and junior high school time could have been defined by by protracted battle with the federal government. The same can be said for my middle child's elementary school years.  Now factor in that I spent (only) 11 months in actual prison out of this seven and a half year struggle.

I would never have been able to forgive myself if I would have not enjoyed those years with my children as my case ebbed and flowed. Those are years that a parent can never get back. Even now, as my oldest child starts her high school career, I wonder where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday she was learning how to crawl, and in the blink of an eye she is all grown up. There are no time machines and there are no do overs. We get one chance and once chance only to raise each child and if we miss it thats it. While it is tragic to be an absent parent if someone is incarcerated, it is infinitely worse to be a physically present but emotionally absent parent. A child can forgive a parent for being in prison and he perceives it as a circumstance beyond control but an emotionally absent parent will never be able to repair that relationship; never to be able to make up for the lost time. While I put forth a great deal of effort not to have the joy of watching my children grow up be negatively impacted by my legal issues, I nevertheless have regrets that I did not enjoy the experience as much as I could have. And those are times I can never get back.

Criminal cases are time consuming and they are emotionally draining. While it may be difficult, someone who unfortunately finds himself in such a situation needs to compartmentalize so that his legal troubles don't infiltrate the rest of his life. While a mistake that leads to incarcerations can be left in the past, the mistake made by not enjoying all of life's blessings such as a wife and such as children is a mistake that will last forever. Be it life's blessings or life's challenges, the same truism applies: This Too Shall Pass.

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