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Even though it breaks our hearts every time we receive another message from Edwin Rubis.

His words must be heard.

This man has now spent nearly a quarter century in the federal prison system for a non-violent cannabis offense.

Every August 20th serves to remind me that another year has passed – that another birthday is here. A day devoid of a birthday party, birthday wishes, birthday gifts, birthday messages. A day surrounded by twelve-foot chain-link fences topped with looping strands of concertina wire, granite walls, and chained gates upon chained gates; locked in a ten-by-twelve dungeon-looking prison cell, adorned with a rusted metal bunk, a paper-thin mattress, a burlap-sack-looking blanket, a tiny mirror, a small wash basin, and a stainless steel toilet; along with the unspeakable loneliness, confusion, frustration, grief, anxiety, anger, shame, guilt, and homesickness that pounds on me day-in-and-day-out year after year.

Yet I won’t complain. I won’t shed a tear.

I’ll remain thankful for another year lived. I’ll silently blow out made-up candles in my mind wishing that one day I’ll redeem the years and seasons blown away by the winds of time; imagining the eating of the first piece of cake to symbolize my gratitude for still being alive, reciting one of my poems:

Give birth to a new beginning so near
Traces of lost memories no longer reign
I’ll walk head high up the mountainside
I won’t look back, I won’t look back

Fair share of bitter tears and sunless joy
Burn and fade like the wind in timeless space
I smile, the day has come, the day has come …

For each birthday I spend behind bars is another opportunity to give thanks to God, another opportunity to learn and mature and grow, another opportunity to keep adding the missing notes to my life’s song.

It took me a while, but I’ve learned that without darkness there’s no light, without struggle there’s no victory, without suffering there’s no joy – without the psychological trauma and mental anguish I’ve undergone year after year, I wouldn’t know that I’m still not damaged goods – without the oppressive concentration-camp rules telling me when to wake up, when to take a shower, when to eat, when to sleep, when to use the phone, what books to read, and even when to pray, I wouldn’t know that I’m still sane and not an automaton at the behest of my captors.

For that I’m grateful. For that I’ll enjoy one more year gone by. One more B-day. Even if it’s in one of the most dehumanizing places on the planet … even if no one remembers it … but me.

Edwin Rubis is serving a 40-year sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense. You can help advocate for his release by sharing this story on social media, by writing your legislators, tweeting President Biden, and using the hashtag #freeedwinrubis

Read more from Edwin HERE

If you’d like to write to Edwin:

Edwin Rubis # 79282-079
PMB 1000
Talladega, AL 35160

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