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A Drug War Diary

By Tommi Johnston, Wife of a Prisoner
of Canada's Drug War

Tommi's husband, George was arrested for the cultivation of marijuana with intent to traffic in Prince Edward Island, Canada and sentenced to more than 8 years in prison.

Tommi struggled on the outside to raise their four daughters alone and fought a life and death battle with leukemia. The last we knew, she was taking her daughters to live with a family that had agreed to raise the girls until George was released from prison. That was many weeks ago and we have now lost contact with her.

We published "Drug War Diary"­­a collection of her poignant essays on the Internet. In this issue we honor her memory and give her tribute for the strength, love and hope that she shared with us all.

Friday, May 15, 1998

She stands by the window, staring up at the stars, tenderly rubbing the swollen glands along the stretch of her neck and she sobs. It's only eleven o'clock... she never smokes before midnight; tonight will be no exception. And tonight the pain is worse.

The girls don't know she smokes anymore. After their father was arrested, and they were at that foster home and mommy went to rehab, it's better she keeps it to herself. The social worker that comes every week is a fairly nice man and the supervision order's almost through.

She finally scratched enough money to buy an old load to get around in, maybe now she can get a job and get off welfare. But tonight the pain is worse.

She watches the clock knowing it would be so easy to go upstairs now and lock her door, open her window wide, take off the screen and hang outside to smoke. But she won't because the girls might smell it, or hear her and then they'd tell someone... and "they'd" take her babies away again. So she waits, and she gulps air, trying to hold down the ham sandwich she's finished just minutes before.

The doctors say maybe she'll have one last Christmas with her girls, she'll be thin and won't be able to eat much dinner, but she may still be alive. She hugs herself gently and the chill that runs through her is one of loneliness. Her husband used to curl behind her on nights like these, the "dark nights" as they called them, and he'd rock her gently, whisper in her ear of sweet smelling places and the good days ahead and she'd sleep. But now she stands and searches for the moon, wondering what it would look like through bars night after night . . . and if he's looking too.

She checks the clock and it's time so she aches up the stairs and enters her own prison. She takes her lighter and joint to the dresser, does the window ritual and then inhales. Seconds later she sighs, minutes later she smiles softly as her neck begins to tingle and as she breathes her last medicated breath into the night air, she cries again. This thing that brings her life, peace, sleep in such a troubled world, this precious gift of nature is what's turned her world into a desolate place.

As she waits for sleeps, she wonders. Is he sleeping and does he know what a foolish world they live in? A world that puts a man who nurtures and grows the only peace she knows in prison? A world that takes a father from his children... when they love him more than magic? That takes a husband from his wife when she needs him so, and loves him more?

It's not the cancer that's killing her... it's this damn war.

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact