Family reunions are always a joyous moment but can you imagine the moment you are able to embrace your loved one for the first time in 26 years?
This is the story of Honofre Chargualaf, a convicted felon who was incarcerated in 1996. The convictions against him involved drugs and guns — crimes that are deemed nonviolent but carry hefty sentences.
Confined in prisons across the nation, Chargualaf turned his life around from behind bars, became a role model, and last week he was compassionately released.
It was like no feeling in the world stated, Antennete, Chargualaf’s youngest daughter. She was 2 years old when her father was sentenced to 44 years in federal incarceration. She is now 28 years old.
“It’s amazing! You know, prior to last year, I didn’t think he would be able to come home without finishing the entirety of his sentence. I didn’t know that the laws change in such ways that could allow him to come home sooner than the 44 years. It’s a wonderful feeling just being able to wake up and he’s here, cooking breakfast. I don’t remember him cooking breakfast for me,” Antennete said.
She added: “I was in a surreal dream world state of mind. You know, I was asking myself … is this really happening? I mean I for many years only imagined that and it was actually happening.”
It’s been a little over a week since he reunited with his family and Chargualaf is taking in all the things we are used to on a daily basis and sometimes takes for granted.
“It’s a learning curve for me, you know, especially in terms of technology. I mean shoot, I don’t want to just throw the term around for lack of a better word. I’m a virgin to this world at least on this side of the fence. Everything has become electronic and I have to learn that, Chargualaf said.
The prison setting that he’s accustomed to does not allow access to gadgets like smartphones or tablets which have come to be a major part of daily life.
“We don’t have access to computers in this aspect of searching and learning. The only thing we have access through computers is research for legal stuff and that’s as far as it goes and texting family members but this is entirely new to me,” Chargualaf said.
On his first day out of prison, Chargualaf ate at a restaurant for the first time in decades. The item on the menu? Ribeye steak! A simple indulgence to celebrate the first family meal.