Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prisoner of the Heart

I have never heard a story quite like the one I am about to share with you. It is a story about the bonds between a daughter and her mother, about the devastating consequences of our actions on those we love, and peoples desperate need for love and relationships.

I came across this incredibly sad, but moving story on the radio yesterday while Vince and I were driving. The story came from the radio show This American Life, and was entitled "Going Big." The premise of the weeks show, was stories of people who took incredible steps and drastic measures to solve problems that they faced. The last of the three stories on the broadcast is the story that I want to retell, it was about a daughter who desperately wanted to be reunited with her mother, no matter the cost.

The story starts with an argument, and a woman had brought a gun along with her and in the course of the disagreement she shot and killed the person she was fighting with. She goes on trial and is sentenced to life in prison in California. The woman had a daughter, and seven years after she is convicted, the girl is able to save up the money to go visit her mother in prison and while she is there she decides that she can't continue without her mother around.

The girl is in her 20's by now, and when she gets home she has determined to do whatever it takes to get into prison. Finally after a year of trying, she is arrested for stealing and she confesses to the crime along with crimes that she made up on the spot to ensure a conviction. Long story short, she ends up in prison with her mother.

The mother is overwhelmed by the chance to be with her daughter again, but devastated that her daughter is in prison - and there because of her. The two women are able to be cell mates, and spend every possible waking moment over the next year with one another. They both said that it was undoubtable the most meaningful moments in their relationship, and both discovered a love and connection that hadn't been there before because of the business and demands of regular life. The daughter was released a year later, while her mother continues to serve the rest of her life sentence. How sad that these women were never able to have a meaningful relationship until they were placed in such desperate circumstances, I am saddened to think what their life could have been like if not for the choices that they had made.

You need to listen to the story yourself - the sadness of these two lives, and the desperation in their voices as share their story is heartbreaking. What an incredible illustration of humanities need for love and relationship.

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