At the time of writing I am having a week away from work, which is the first time I have done so since February 2020.
That was when I was in Bali visiting my stepson Brendon who is in Kerobokan Prison serving a drug possession sentence. He was first arrested in August 2018 and I have been a regular visitor until COVID changed our lives last year. You wouldn’t exactly call my visits a holiday but way back at the start of this life-changing experience a parent of another Australian prisoner told me that to make it bearable you need to at least make part of your visit a holiday.
I thought it was odd advice at the time but it was on the money, so for every visit I tried to have the weekend to myself (the prison is shut to visitors on weekends). I found that during the week I understood the prison system, the inmates and the visitors just a little bit better and on the weekends I understood the culture and the wonderful people on the island, which definitely gave me some comfort.
Of course this all stopped last year but hopefully I will be able to return in the new year. However, this week I have been able to reflect what I have learned over the last three-and-a-half years. I have learnt that while I thought we as a family were in a terrible situation, I understand there are far more people worse off than us. I have learnt our friends and community have been amazing support and our family has grown through this ordeal. I have gained a family in Bali who have helped us – no, actually saved us – and Mahoyda and his tribe will always be an important part of our family and we are eternally grateful.
Brendon has just over a year to go and I look forward to getting over there again to see him and to going back and seeing the many locals I have got to know, from people that sell me stuff I don’t need but I feel their need is mightier than mine, to the guards and staff at the prison who have always treated me well.
I pray that Brendon stays safe and healthy. I realised last week I have to stop calling him a stepson and correct people that do, as through this whole saga he has stepped up and owned his mistakes and made me step up and own mine.
Stay safe and stay strong son.