The incarcerated women’s writing circle said goodbye last night to one of its most accomplished writers.
JL will transfer from Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in Vermont to an out-of state prison.
The nature of her crime necessitates serving the rest of her sentence in a federal facility.
She won’t learn her departure date until minutes before it’s time to go.
As you’ll see from her moving piece below, leaving one prison facility for another requires a purging of sorts, as an inmate departs with “only the clothes on her back.”
We will miss JL’s infectious smile and insightful words.
We will also recall the great shift that occurred in her heart and mind during the year she graced our writing circle.
Sifting through the papers, the cards, the letters received; all the things I held in my cell as important, things that helped me survive the past year.
And now I watch my hands drop armfuls of memories into the recycling bin as I prepare to move on.
I will gift away the necessities, clothing and hygiene; whatever small tokens I have collected that may make another woman’s stay a bit more comfortable.
I will mail out a selection of cards, pictures, names and addresses of those who’ve touched my life and whom I cherish enough to keep in contact.
And soon one morning the call will come, where I will have minutes to say goodbye to the place that has forever changed me.
With only the clothes on my back, and my head held high expressing the bravest face I can muster, I will prepare to walk down the halls that have held me in, held me down, and also held me up. A year and a lifetime, an unscripted ballet.
I will walk into booking, receive my shackles and cuffs, and I will be prepared for wherever the Feds take me.
Because each prison is a building with different colored walls, different guards; each cell is a place to lay my head.
I am prepared for the unknown as much as I can be because I have found freedom in faith that this is only the beginning and not the end.