Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Dear__________________,

You don’t know me.

We each had a major part to play in each other’s lives. In fact, you took mine.

Don’t worry. This letter is not about anger or guilt. It’s not a “let’s just forget it and move on” letter. I had a life, not a perfect life, but it was mine. I was living it.

The real reason I’m writing is not about my life. It is about yours.

I don’t live in the physical world anymore. My lungs do not fill with air anymore. My arms do not hug anymore. I live in memory, my family and friends’ memories. My question to you is, “How are you living?”

Maybe you don’t live at the house or town you want. Well guess what? Join the club. What I want to know is, how are you living?

Are you trying to ease your suffering with drugs and alcohol? COWARD. I don’t get that choice, so put down the shit. You chose your life over me. Do me a favor. Stop wasting it!

Are you wasting your life? Do the people in your life understand the difference between love and lust? Would you be proud to introduce them to a person you look up to? Would you introduce them to me? Are your friends and girlfriends determining what you do with your life? You have choices. If you don’t know that, you are dumber than I thought you were.

Listen, so you are in a place that you would rather not be in with people you would rather not be with. Consider this. Are you a person you would rather not be?

Stop thinking about who you were and focus on who you want to be. I do not have life. You do. Do something with it.

Who have you helped in the last year, last month, last week, or today? Do you help anyone? Maybe you’ve had to lie, steal, con or manipulate. You are surviving, but is that enough for you?

You can become educated and law abiding (it’s not such a bad thing once you embrace it). You can’t escape the fact you took my life. I am not judging or hating you. I am just asking, “Is it enough for you?”

Please, do something with your life.

Live and live well.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Dorothy Maraglino

Dorothy Maraglino is a writer incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California. She is serving a life-without-parole sentence under the state’s felony murder rule. Writing is how she processes the world around her to remain sane. She devotes most of her time to short works that share the realities of prison.