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A rusty mail slot with the word letters written on it
Photo by Shaun Bell on Unsplash

Welcome to PJP’s newest special project, “Love, Mom.” For this collection, we have invited mothers to share their perspectives and experiences surrounding incarceration. We hope that this project will give you, our reader, a better understanding of the impacts of incarceration on families across the country. To view more pieces from the “Love, Mom” collection, please click here.

Shattered. Completely broken on my cell floor. I lost everything: my freedom and my life and my children, who were placed with strangers by the system, a system as broken as my soul.

Lonely is a mild description compared to what I really feel in prison. No contact with family or friends. I am surrounded by strangers — broken, traumatized strangers.

Immersed in this unbearable loneliness, I dive in, taking a complete moral inventory. I do the only thing that will change my outcome. I seek help to overcome this pain through education and spiritual growth.

Reconciliation begins with letters written in a journal. I pour out my heart to my children, even though I cannot mail these letters. A year’s worth of letters piles up. 

Suddenly, one is slid under my door. A Thanksgiving gift — a glorious surprise! K. reached out. I am overwhelmed with joy, the fulfillment of my hopes and prayers streaming down my face. She desires to know me right where I am. 

As my oldest, she is taking the initiative and will be the doorway to my other two someday. Now we write weekly, embracing the gift of a mother-daughter relationship in unique circumstances.

My transformation is slow and steady as I grow to become the best I can every day. 

Being a mother while incarcerated is possible, and these circumstances cannot break this bond of love. To my children I am an example of strength, love and perseverance in the face of trials.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Brittany Lynn Rice is a writer and mother of three children. She is incarcerated in Texas.