Singing through the storm

Texas Death Row News – March 10, 2018.

“Singing through the storm has helped us sustain our sense of self, our sense of family, and our sense of community” – Dr Cornel West

In 1998, I began this experience that has seen me arrested, convicted and sentenced to death for a crime that I am innocent of. As I cast my mind back to the beginning of this nightmare, I try to make sense of what has happened to me and how I have been able to survive such a traumatic experience. This takes me back to my childhood, my family, and I now know that I was blessed to have a mother and father who did the best they could with me – a child who was full of energy, curiosity and desire to always be active and on the go. My family was not perfect to say the least, but they loved each other and did the best they could to express this love in actions and words.

My father was a great provider, a man who was always working operating his small construction business and I fondly recall the times when I’d spend time with my Dad riding along with him in his pick-up truck as he did things like check on the workers at the job site, met with home owners, or went to the lumber yard to buy materials. During these times, my father shared many things with me, including his love for music and little did I know that school was in session as he was teaching me to be a man.

I smile and think of my father all the time because I use the skills he taught me on a daily basis as I work to win my freedom and most importantly I carry a sense of hope and belief that a better tomorrow is on its way that Dad instilled in me. He taught me to dream and not be afraid of hard work, to set goals and work towards reaching them while believing that God is always with you and will see you through.

In this manner, my father gave me the tools to endure this situation and he taught me to have faith in myself, in God and to believe that if I put forth my best effort God would do the rest.

My mother was a huge influence on me as well, she was always there when I needed her and she showed me she loved me her youngest child with plenty of hugs and kisses too. Mom worked with my dad in the office as part-time secretary, errand runner, and a full-time mom all rolled into one. I know now all things considered I was blessed to come from this kind of family that instilled morals and values in me that I live my life by today.

I often share with those I’m close to that I work at being a good person today because it’s the right thing to do. Not because Texas death row has broken me and “I’m going to mind” and follow the rules and regulations. No. I’m still in many ways the same stubborn person I was when I first began this journey but I now realize that right conduct is the only way to live my life if I expect to have a good quality of life. And I also want my family and friends to be proud of who I am and what I’ve become.

This is the foundation that I have within me – I come from a background where both my mother and father were honest, good, hard-working people. They were optimists and believers in the Christian faith and did the best they could to sow these beliefs in me and my siblings and in short taught me how to sing through the storm knowing that things will get greater later.

In many ways, the two decades that I’ve been confined on Texas death row does not feel like 20 years. The day to day routine here makes the weeks, months, even years blur together. And in some ways, that’s not a bad thing. What I mean by that is if every day that I have served in this new age death camp was etched upon my mind, heart and soul, I would have given up a long time ago, leaving a few sad sad songs and a hump in the ground. To be clear, this place is awful – Texas death row is a neo concentration camp where my friends are murdered in the name of [in]justice all the time. As the weeks, months and years pass and I’m locked in a cage for a crime I did not do, I have lost my father who passed away in 2016, and my beloved mother will be 80 years old on March 19th. I believe if I could not find ways of putting myself to work for my freedom, for working for the good and being obsessed with proving my innocence instead of being focused on the fact that each day that passes only brings me closer to my legal murder, I would have given up long ago and just laid down and died.

If I had not had the foundation that was implanted within me by my parents, which has allowed me to sustain my sense of self, I would have been lost long ago. For this I’m forever grateful.

I find it amazing how so much of what I needed to do to maintain my sanity these past 20 years has come to me instinctively. It was natural for me to live my life to the fullest each and every day. Natural for me to give my best effort in all that I do. Natural to be impeccable with my word and it was only when I began to read self-help and spiritual themed texts that I realized these keys to success that the masters had given us were things that I was already doing.

And it is amazing to me to think that one of the most important, critical lessons I had to learn and live life by was taught to me by my parents. The lesson – truth that there is a Higher Power in the Universe and the belief and faith in this Higher Power.

When I’ve found myself in situations where nothing could help me but God, I was comforted by this faith and belief that things would get greater later. I didn’t know how or when, but I believed and stood on my faith and I’m still standing as a result.

So 20 years later I find myself in an amazing situation, at a crossroads in my life. We have had the miracle of winning a stay of execution which also gave us the evidentiary hearing. We have since seen the hearing come to pass and it’s incredible how well it went for us and how confident we are that we’ll have a favorable ruling in the appeal courts that will see me free very soon. Now more than ever I believe with everything that I am that we’ll see the second part of the miracle, that is me winning my freedom manifest into reality.

And it’s not a coincidence that by knowing how to sing and dance through the storm, living in gratitude and in absolute faith and belief in God has brought me to this point in my journey. For the storm clouds are beginning to part and behind them I see the sun and with it the reminder that a new beginning comes my way – the beginning of Part II of my life where I’m free and far, far away from Texas death row!

March 10, 2018.

Charles D. Flores No. 999299

Polunsky Unit Texas Death Row

2 thoughts on “Singing through the storm”

  1. Dear Charles,
    You certainly have a gift in writing and I enjoyed reading your remembrances of what your parents imparted in you. I wish more folks recognized the “power” of those beginning years.
    I also appreciated the importance you gave to the Lord….for HE is the source of our peace and true joy of heart. As we approach Easter this is HIS Message to all of us – that we are separated from God by our faults, ( our sins which we ALL have) and in His “Parental” love, His only solution was to send Himself in His Sinless Son to take on our sins, and to go to the Cross for each of us. This is true love as we know from the Gospel Message of St. John 3:16….”for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son……” It is hard to imagine what this meant for the Christ…to be rejected by His own creation, and to be killed in order to offer us, by our personal choice, true salvation and redemption. It is the glorious message of Easter and it is for each us to accept the Lord’s death and resurrection in our own hearts and to accept His forgiveness.
    I do wish you a glorious Easter and my prayers are always with you.

  2. What a beautifully written piece. I’m sure your father would be proud and your mother humbled.
    The greatness of power from he above is true but what you never mention and perhaps do not see is what you bring and the wisdom to your life’s journey and to others who follow and support you. This is what makes you so incredibly special.

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