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My heart beats a thousand times faster when I call home, and there is no answer. I keep calling back to back until I get an answer. I think to myself: finally, a hello. Remembering I called home to vent about prison during this pandemic. Praying to God there’s no bad news after the hello. Realizing how blessed I am to hear my family is okay.

Jobs, homes, and lives lost every day. Tears, too many tears being shed. It breaks my heart to watch the news and hear someone’s life was lost at the hands of someone else. As if the pandemic isn’t enough.

I talk to my kids and instead of making sure they keep their masks on, I tell them what to do in case they were pulled over by the police. I tell my daughter to call her brother as much as she can to hear that he’s okay. I tell my mom I love them all, as if it might be my last time.

Being incarcerated at a time like this is so mentally draining. I’m dealing with the emotions of staff members as well as other offenders. I find myself depressed and scared over and over again, even though I know my family is praying for me as much as I am praying for them. I pray this will all come to an end soon.

No matter how hard life seems, I can survive. I can wake up, hug my loved ones again and say, with the biggest smile, I finally made it home!

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

Keshia Freeman is a writer incarcerated in Virginia.