It’s been said many times over by every media outlet and every mouth who lived through the pandemic that,”The Covid-19 Pandemic changed everything.”
I can not refute that unfortunate wisdom.Life changes daily with or without some immune-attacking virus ’created’ to end life.Those who were in the freeworld fighting over toilet paper,or finally seeing and not liking the real character of the spouse they lived with due to forced quarantine;wasn’t the only ones who suffered:Inmates suffered too.Just as much…if not more.And i say this reflecting that we had no where to run too.No masks to protect us,no meds,and many of us lost contact with so many previous pen pals. I know i did.
It was June of 2020 when I caught Covid-19 as one of the first Texas Death Row inmates to get it.And for 16 whole days I laid on the steele bunk in the cell, half-sleep and half-awake paralyzed by a body ache I never experienced before. And the cough?OMG!It was as if something was shaking my soul’s pipes,and it hurted to cough. It was a typical Texas summer,over one-hundred degrees outside and boiling hot inside these cells.And yet my body was as cold as a iceberg.I had a fever of a hundred for days.This prison’s medical staff isn’t free-world quality care.Not even close.And since Covid was something new to our generation;it was highly fearful.So there was a hands off policy within the prison’s medical department when it came to inmates.So for 16 days, I laid in my cell…ALONE.
I recall when I was a kid and when I did get sick; how my mom cared for me until i was healthy again.Her presence was medication.I recall when a guy used a gun and cracked my skull once during a altercation,that as soon as I was released from the hospital,my mom didn’t want me to be alone in the house,so she enlisted several of my friends to take turns and keep watch over me until my mom would return from work.My friends’ presence was medicine too. Not being alone helped heal my soul,which in turned helped to heal my body.
On May 2nd.,2023,United States Surgeon General,Dr. Vivek Murthy,issued a statement about the medical epidemic Americans now face;known as Loneliness.
It’s a feeling the body sends us when
something we need for survival is missing.”
The nation’s Top Doctor warns that if Americans dont start engaging more socially and physically;our loneliness will lead to skyrocket cases of depression that could trigger a spike in suicides,and or;increase in various mental health issues in people.Bottom line,loneliness is dooming us as a nation.As a people
I’ve been on Texas death row since Nov. 1999.And since March 2000 I have had no intentional and normal contact with another human-being,except for one time:I recall having a visit during this time which i refused.I just wanted to be alone,and lay on my bunk with a tearful heart in the darkness of the cell I occupied.It was too much for me to take in,being on death row wrongly.I have and still have my days.At that time, mentally i was becoming unraveled and i had never experienced those feelings before;loneliness and depression on such a destructive scale that i was going through at that moment.Oh,i am sure i was depressed and felt alone when i was free;but the difference was;when i was free i could mask these ills by distracting them with other activities in the freeworld.In prison?It’s just you,concrete wall,non-stop images of regrets or hope,and whatever issues you deal with….all of it will surface here.
Former death row officer,C.O.Raven,came to my cell after hearing i had refused a visit, she then ordered me to come out.I did.I recall having my head down,displaying my crestfallen soul.The next thing i felt was her arms wrapped around me,hugging me the way a surrogate mother would hold a needing child.It was a hug that brought out rare tears from my eyes.She and many of the officers from that era didn’t approve of the way they was treating death row inmates,and quit.But i will never forget her display of humanity towards me in a moment i needed it the most.God said,”Man should not live alone.”Some how America’s Conservative Christians who are policy makers,didn’t read that part in the bible.
Writing and visiting pen pals and family members has become essential for us who exist and live in extreme solitary isolation.Where we battle with the principalities of negative energy and isolation,and the realities that being alone is a form of penal ‘punishment’ that isn’t policy.
One of them most heartbreaking events I stood to witness more times that i care too,is seeing a fellow-inmate ‘snap’.Loosing all sense of reality,because loneliness finally conquered their mental force field.It’s sad for many reasons cause,for me,it makes me mouth-to-myself while looking in a mirror,questioning,”When will I be next to snap?”
Written by:Charles ‘Chucky’ Mamou/2023
Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas
24 years in solitary / ad seg
May 18, 2023
Words by CHARLES MAMOU
Photography by TEXAS LETTERS