Imagine - By Shaun Weldon

You've took the day off work, no alarm clock forcing you to open your eyes so you woke up a little later than usual, you should feel well rested and ready to face the day. The truth is you haven't slept a wink and you feel like your world is crumbling, your head is pounding and your stomach in knots, but why? Because today you are going visiting your offspring in prison. This is how I imagine I'd feel waking up on visiting day if my son or daughter were serving a sentence, it wouldn’t matter if it was a three month run or a ten year stretch, I imagine I'd wake up feeling the same. If, like myself, you haven't served a sentence or have never so much as stepped foot inside a prison then you can't put yourself in their shoes and the media paints the picture of what it's like for you. I'd have a million thoughts and a thousand questions running through my head every second of the day...Are they being targeted? Have they cracked under the pressures and temptations of drugs? Are they mentally stable? id constantly fear for their safety and sanity, they are my flesh and blood. I’d understand they're inside for a reason but as a parent you never stop worrying, regardless of their age, position and circumstances. I would be in hope of the visits filling the holes their absence would drill, but I imagine they just bore the holes and make them bigger, you're only going to be there for a fraction of the time that they are and you're going to have to leave them there, alone and lonely. I imagine I'd find visits quite daunting, I mean, you're not popping round to have a catch up over coffee and cake on a Sunday, you’re going seeing them in a place where they have been sent for an offence or a crime they have committed. I imagine it takes the strongest of people to hold it together when visiting a son or daughter, we hear of prison affecting a person's mental state but it can also affect the mental state of people on the outside, especially parents. Reminders of sons and daughters are everywhere, their favourite song or TV show, their favourite foods, things you did together but now do alone, these things can be a mental torture and will trigger emotions and worry, I imagine it feels similar to a grievance. I don't know how I'd deal with it to be honest, it's one of those situations that you can't rehearse, “I’ll do it on the night”, as they say. I want my children to grow up understanding which roads are the right roads to take, and I will be there to guide and advise as every parent would, but I cannot see into the future, nor can I see around corners. I can only pray they make the right choices because I can’t imagine what I'd do or how I would feel if either of them ended up on the other side of the wall.