VICTOR'S STORY ~ HOLIDAY SEASON: BITTERSWEET

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When I was young maybe 10 or 11 years old we had to write a letter in school about what we wanted for Christmas. My teacher referred me to the school counselor just to check up on me because I was the only one out of 26 students in my class who did not request for a toy or a type of gift. What I asked for was for my father to be freed from prison. I was asked questions like are you ok, how long my dad was incarcerated, and for how much longer. My answer was “forever”. I began to cry. That was about 25 years ago. I can’t believe I’m still living this nightmare.

My name is Victor Torres Jr., I am 36 years old. My father Victor Torres Sr. (57 yrs old), and Uncle Jorge Torres (61 yrs old) known better as the “Torres Brothers” were arrested on June 24 th 1987, (over 31 years ago) and sentenced to life in prison without parole. They have no prior arrest, convictions, and no record of violence.

Growing up without my father has completely altered my life. For 30 years Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years have arrived, and passed. Still no daddy. By the looks of things this year is no different. I am the oldest of my father’s three children. My brother was only three years old, and my sister was exactly a month old when my father was arrested. I have experienced many different emotional highs and lows. My mother who has done an exceptional job raising my siblings and I, struggled as a single parent with work, school, and us. Financially our family struggled, at times Christmas would miss us. Looking at my mother’s tears was not easy. There was an ugly void. Our dining table was incomplete. There was an empty chair. My idol, my king, the person I looked up to was not there. Because I was young I couldn’t understand why.

When I was young maybe 10 or 11 years old we had to write a letter in school about what we wanted for Christmas. My teacher referred me to the school counselor just to check up on me because I was the only one out of 26 students in my class who did not request for a toy or a type of gift. What I asked for was for my father to be freed from prison. I was asked questions like are you ok, how long my dad was incarcerated, and for how much longer. My answer was “forever”. I began to cry. That was about 25 years ago. I can’t believe I’m still living this nightmare.

I missed so much. Because I was so young when my father was free. I have no recollection of what it feels like to spend the holidays with him. That really is sad. I don’t wish that upon anyone. What’s sadder now is that my children are experiencing the same thing. They love their grandfather. I have three daughters. The face my girls make when we leave my father behind in the visiting area at the FCI Fairton feels like a punch to my gut. It really is heartbreaking. My father’s biggest desire is to be free so he can be with his grandchildren. Lord when will this be possible?

I tell myself, maybe this is the last year that the holidays arrive and my father is not with us. God only knows. The Torres family are a family that live by faith. We have faith that the Torres Brothers will be freed. 31 years is enough. My grandmother is 95 years old, out of her 5 sons, three have passed and my father and uncle are incarcerated. #FREETHETORRESBROTHERS.