Memoir

Nine Years Ago, the Cops Came for My Father

I wonder now if that was actually the day that saved me.

Nine Years Ago, the Cops Came for My Father

This is the seventh story in Pain of the Prison System, a series proudly presented by Narratively, written by high school students for POPS the Club – a nonprofit dedicated to providing a safe space for high schoolers whose lives have been impacted by incarceration.

I awake on my parents’ bed. I am swept from a deep sleep by a conversation between my mother and father. I crack open my eyes to see my father rushing to pull on his clothes and my mother sitting motionless on the bed, a frantic tone in her voice.

Due to my drowsiness I can’t decipher what they are saying. My father flees the room. My mother remains inert. I stay still, trying to comprehend the situation.

Soon I hear noises coming from outside of our house. I leap from the bed and hurry to the window. When I peek out I see a man dressed in all black pointing an M-16.

I have seen guys like this before on TV, chasing bad guys. But the sight of a pointed weapon just feet away fills me with fear. And it freezes me.

My mother shouts and pulls me away from the window.

I hear the guy with the automatic weapon shout, “Come out with your hands up. We have him in custody.”

I think, “Who’s him?” And, “Who are they talking about?”

My mother holds my sister’s hand and leaves the house. I look over our driveway and I see the person I love so much, the “him in custody,” with a look of sadness and terror on his face.

That image is burned inside my brain. I am unable to erase it, though I’ve tried. That one frozen image carried with it the promise of a massive and inexplicable change that was on the way.

Often I look back and examine that image. That frozen moment in time. And yet it changes as I grow older and mature.

Now, at seventeen, a senior in high school, a good student, a star football player, I ask: Was it all for the good? What if I had chosen the same path, the wrong path my father took? What if the same gangs and drugs that took my father away had taken me to similar places, to a similar fate?

I feel as if I am meant to make a difference. To break the chain. To follow a better path.

Although these thoughts roam freely in my mind, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a father beside me.