Mother-daughter in prison

A moving memorial was held at Valley State Prison for women in Chowchilla, CA, for a woman who died on the outside shortly after being released. This is her daughter’s tribute. She was able to get to know her mother only when she herself was sentenced to the same prison.
I think about how different my life may have been, if my mother would have never entered the system.
I wrote this a few hours before my mother went to heaven. For the first time, I finally had my mother in my life. Granted, we were sitting in the Pen, yet it was what I had dreamed of my whole life. It had finally happened, no one could keep her from me any more.
It seemed that no matter how hard I tried when I was growing up, nothing was ever good enough to get my mother to stay out of prison. Each trip seemed longer than the last one, and each time I tried even harder to understand what I had done *that* time to make her *want* to go back. No one could tell me it wasn’t my fault, though no one ever bothered to try. I just knew it had to be that test I took last week and only got a B+. It was the day she was arrested again. Or maybe it was because Dad said I didn’t do the dishes right.
She didn’t write because I don’t spell good enough. Not because it’s easier on her, or because Dad wouldn’t let her write.
The worst part is now sitting here, doing life without parole. I was finally given my life-long dream, a chance to see my mommy. The worst part was hearing her say she came here to be with me. The fact is, that was the benefit but not the cause. Yet the same guilt is alive and strong in me. It only sealed all those childhood beliefs.
I never thought I would hurt as bad as I did the day she walked out of those gates a little over a month ago. I knew I should be happy for her, yet feared I may never see her again. You see, for the first time I actually saw her change and seem to want to stay out of prison. She will stay out of prison. On August 25th, less than a month after getting out of prison on her third W#, she went to heaven to play with her grandson and the angels.
Looking back, I was very blessed for the time I had. As I watch women walk in and out of this prison, I wonder if they realize they are not building the children of tomorrow, but are destroying hopes and dreams.
Live each moment as if it was your last. You can change a child’s tomorrow with a letter, a smile or a hope for the future. Have you taken that time today? My mom did and I will cherish that time. Can you say that?