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June 14th, 2020, Day 91, Sunday, 2:10 p.m. on a somber afternoon at the U.S. Penitentiary Tucson. JB came by, in tears, to tell us that his grandmother had passed away on Tuesday. He found out today.

JB is a guy I’ve known for years, and he’s tight with my cellmate, or “cellie,” Richard. On this very sad day that he found out his grandmother died, it ripped me up, remembering how he hung his head on the door of our cell, in tears, saying, “I don’t know what to do.” It was more frustrating that guys in his wing were allowed out and that we were not, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

JB said they discharged his grandmother from the hospital Monday, the day before she died. Naturally, he’s taking it hard. Mack’s on the same wing as JB, so I called him and asked him to talk to a corrections officer (CO) to see if JB could get a special phone call home. I then told Law about it, so that JB would have two guys on his range that could give him moral support since Richard and I are locked in our cell.

Gosh, it hurts when you see the pain that people go through when you’re powerless to do anything. I said a prayer for God to comfort JB, and it helped that Mack and Law could sympathize with JB. Mack lost his mom here, and I’ve lost people, too. I’ll have to pray more for JB; he’s got a few hard weeks ahead of him.

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.

Frederick Mason is a writer incarcerated in Arizona. He has penned over 200 essays about prison-related topics including the COVID-19 pandemic situation.