DEATH ROW NEWS – May 19, 2018
Where do you find inspiration?
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well” – Diane Ackerman
On most days, I wake each morning beginning with time spent in meditation and prayer with special emphasis on my brothers who are on death watch facing an execution date. For those who have never lived through the experience of having death standing at your door, waiting on a set date to come in for you, you can never truly comprehend it. It’s as if the government had put you on a run-away train and then erected an indestructible barrier on the tracks. Now, this barrier might be so far ahead that you can’t see it because your scheduled execution date is months away, or it might be in plain sight because you are weeks or days away from your date. The train is barreling down the tracks at full speed and if you don’t find a way to get off that train, or a way to remove the barrier, the train will crash into it and you will be dead.
There is no rhyme or reason with capital punishment – it is akin to being struck by lightning, we do not know who’ll be struck next.
We never know who might win a stay of execution, or who might be pushed out of existence by these devils in the State of Texas. I know – I lived 5 months on death watch in 2016. And in 2016, half the men who had execution dates lived and half were murdered in the name of justice.
Every morning I wake up and after I balance myself with deep breathing and find my center and the world seems to stand still as I go within myself, I take time to ask the Universe to please be with everyone on death row giving them the strength and courage to face their day. I also say a special prayer for the brothers on death watch. I send them love and positive energy along with strength and courage because I know what they are going through. When I do this, I also take time to remind myself that life is fleeting and impermanent, which makes it all the more precious because of it.
As I go within myself, in my mind, I see the brief friendships I had when I first arrived on Texas death row in 1999 with men who were executed shortly thereafter. I think of the friends I’ve known for 5 years or 10 years. I think of the guys I witnessed lose their life to the death machine in Texas when I was on death watch and I know there are no guarantees that any of us will have years or even decades of life ahead of us. While I’m in relative good health and still feel youthful (about half the time) I am not promised tomorrow. Life is such that one day we’re here and the next day we’re gone and the idea that “there will be time for that later” is uncertain to say the least. For me though, I’m invigorated, not depressed by this fact of life.
Years ago, I was blessed to learn the critical lesson that when we learn how to die, we learn how to live. Because the reality of death – that no one lives forever, we’re here for a moment in time then gone – burns away all the nonsense in life and allows us to focus on the essentials. In this way, the awareness that I have of death pushes me to not be idle. It reminds me to make the most of the precious gift of life, pushing myself to go that extra mile when I think I can go no further. To exert myself as much as I can working for the good and learning to be a kinder and gentler person for the benefit of all beings. Because I have complete control of this part of my life and how much I succeed or fail depends 100% on me. I have little control over most of the other areas in my life but in this area I’m in complete control.
In this way, the reality that death is part of life inspires me. It makes me want to be my best in everything I do, it’s the constant reminder that I’ve already lived half my life and if I’m blessed I might have 40 more years ahead of me and in those decades there is not one day that I have to waste. Not only for myself, but for the other brothers who’ve been pushed out of existence by the State of Texas. I think of them and I know that I must live my life now and especially when free in such a way that they would be pleased with. So many that have lived and died on Texas death row never got another chance at freedom – and when I do I must live my life to the fullest.
Three days ago a close friend of mine named Juan Castillo was executed by the State of Texas. I’ve been thinking about that and trying to comprehend how a brother who I knew for 14 years and who I believe was innocent had had his life taken from him.
I will never understand why this happened to him so I’m not going to try and make sense of this legal murder.
I’m just going to remember my brother Juan Castillo and always speak well of him and carry his memory deep inside of me. Castillo was a very good person who was naturally kind to others. He’d always help someone in need and was just a good dude. These devils may have taken his life but they can never take away the kindness he shared with others and they can never take away the fact that everyone who knew Castillo will speak well of him and hold his memory in high regard.
The fact of the matter is that for the past 19 years, I have been confined on Texas death row for a crime I did not commit. And whether you’re as guilty as sin or innocent as a new born babe, make no mistake about it – this is a slaughter house. The killing is done in such a way that there is no blood or visible violence for the public to see; but these devils are killing us no doubt. And in these 19 years I have met some of my best and closest friends here on Texas death row, brothers who were guilty and also innocent of the crime they were sent to this hell on earth for, like Castillo. As a result I live with an awareness of death that never goes away and it is my choice to use this reality as an inspiration to live my life as best as I can as I continue to fight for justice and freedom.
For 5 months we’ve been waiting for the trial court judge to rule in my appeal. Very soon we’ll have the decision we’ve all been wanting in our favour and this will be the beginning of my exiting Texas death row for good.
The freedom train will leave the station and I will be on it! When I reach my goal and begin part II of my life forever free and far away from this terrible place, I will live each day to the fullest. I’ll be living for me and my brother Juan Castillo. I’ll be living for all the other brothers who never got that chance and I refuse to let them down. In this way their time on this earth and their fight for life and freedom will always be a continuing inspiration for me. I can do nothing less!
What inspires you? What makes you jump jump jump and race race race? Whatever it is, grab it tight and make it your fuel to live each and every day you see to the fullest!
Love Peace Hope & Freedom Soon!
Charles D. Flores No. 999299
Texas death row
May 19, 2018