Recorded May 24
“Step into the circle if you’ve lost a parent.”
Lori steps into the circle. I notice she is crying, this woman who keeps a straight face and chooses her words cautiously and uses them sparingly. I step into the circle too, as do a handful of other women in the prison classroom.
“Say your name, which parent passed away and how long ago.”
I state the facts, devoid of memory or feeling.
“Katie. My mom. 25 years ago.”
I watch Lori's hands, which keep leaving her sides, like a nervous tick, to swipe at the tears running down her cheeks.
The other women in the circle share of their losses, and then it is Lori's turn.
"Lori. My dad. Tuesday."
It is Thursday.
Her words hang in the air and, for a moment, we are all like statues. Then the woman to Lori's right places a hand on Lori's back and rubs a slow circle. It undoes something inside, and a sob escapes Lori before her hands can cover her mouth.
In this moment, I remember my own grief. I can feel the weight of it in my chest. I can feel it catching in my throat. But I do not fear of drowning in it. Instead, I welcome it like an old friend, grateful to be reconnecting after all these years.