Mark Stroman – The Sweet Smell of Life

The Sweet Smell Of Life

It was early, not quite dawn and the air was heavy with the promise of rain. Rain has always been one of my favorite elements that Mother Nature offers us. The Sweet Smell of Life.

I sat in my dark cell sipping my first cup of coffee and savouring the peace and quiet of the morning. I’m a morning person and being on Texas Death Row it’s one of the few things I can enjoy since most others sleep their time away. So before the noise and chaos of the day begins I flip through my photos and return to days long past. I wondered briefly of my eleven year old daughter in Vancouver, Washington, sleeping soundly so many hundred miles away in a city known for it’s rainfall. How very fortunate she is, I thought, and how very much I miss and love them both at the moment.

The spell was broken by the ringing sound of keys and metal locks as the side door was opened and the silence was completely shattered by yells to get ready for recreation. Food slots banging open and handcuffs clicking around the wrists of the first wave out and since my cell is one of the first in my section I’m always fortunate to be out early. The early dawn sky was an amber colour and I could practically taste the rains nearness as I did my first set of push-ups. It was during that set that a steady mist began to fall slowly from the sky. I held my head back and let it fall upon my face as I stood perfectly still. It was the first rain I’d felt on my skin in years and it drifted my soul miles away, it’s a feeling I’ll cherish forever. The Sweet Smell of Life.

During the second set the drizzle mist intensified into a driving rain beating down upon me with a massaging effect, Penetrating into my pores and seeming to reach the deepest part of my soul. I laid down on my back reaching my arms out wide to embrace this invigorating shower pouring from the heavens. I laughed out loud, not able to help it, nor caring to. The tingling reached down into my bones and began running through my veins and reaching into the depth of my very soul. As I laughed I knew the rain was washing away the tears that were spilling from my eyes in the same way that it was washing away all the pain, the loneliness, the sorrow and the longing Death Row had embedded so deep inside me.

I’ll be leaving this place one day soon, execution is my release date. In the final hours when they do come, I’ll blow out the candle of life with no bitterness for I have tasted life, lived, loved and will always remember the Sweet Smell of Life that fell from heaven that day.

Forever I Remain
In the struggle
Mark Stroman
Texas Death Row

Mark Stroman, executed by lethal injection, June 20th 2011

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