My name is Silva.
I first spoke to my (now) husband via the internet on Friday 25 June 2004.
We were both members of a dating web site, although neither of us were particularly looking for dates. He was in a self-imposed exile as part of his getting clean from substance abuse, and I was looking for Canadians to chat to after visiting my friend in Toronto a few months earlier.
I saw his profile picture on the previous Monday. It took me all week to decide whether to send him a message. I figured that he would probably have lots of women interested in him, or he just wouldn't reply anyway. Apparently I was wrong on both counts.
We chatted online that evening. He phoned me the next day. We haven't really stopped talking since.
11 weeks later, he committed a violent crime against a family member. He did not run or evade arrest. He was under the influence of various substances and suffered, we believe, a psychotic episode. He went straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect £200.
When I found out where he was from his brother, I began writing. I wrote as a friend, because I knew that when the substances wore off he would be scared and probably alone. Just over 2 weeks later, I received the first letter from him since he had been in jail. We continued writing, we had grown very close before his crime, and within a few weeks were were closer.
He was sentenced to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). I wanted to see him but we decided to wait until he had moved from the jail to a prison. Our first visit was in mid-March 2006. He proposed to me in the visitation room, down on one knee despite having developed a groin hernia.
We were married by proxy in December 2006. His mother was his stand-in as TDCJ inmates are not permitted to marry in any other way. Three days later we had our first contact visit, where we could hug, kiss briefly and sit opposite each other across a table and hold hands.
Since then I have made the journey from the UK to Texas roughly every 12 months to see him. We get 2 x 4 hours of visit over a weekend.
He is currently due for his first parole review in 2024; he will be 64 and I will be 54.