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(Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from a longer piece.)




The Last Day of Freedom




Lysette Navarro 





It is still dark on this morning of March 15th.  I awake from a troubled sleep and decide the time has come to rise out of the comfort of my mother’s bed.  I look over at her and can see she has also had trouble getting to sleep the night before.  She opens her eyes and takes a good long look at me before she says anything.  I wait patiently as she finds the words to explain what she wants to say, but nothing comes out.  I know today is going to be a difficult day for her but I cannot find the right words either to start this chaotic day on its way.  I can see the pain in her brown eyes and when she reaches out for me I cannot hold it in any longer.  I lean in towards her and put my arms around the woman who has given me life, has given up so much just to see me happy, and today I am going to destroy her.  I hold her close because I know this is going to be the last time I will feel her heart beating next to mine for a long time.  As she holds me I can feel her tears burning into my shoulder; her grip becomes tighter and I let myself get lost in the power of her love.




I have to get my children up for school for the last time.  How do I say goodbye to my sweet girls?  How can I say goodbye to the sweet smells of bubble gum, dirt, sticky fingers, hugs for no reason other than I want to, the giggles when I blow strawberries on their tummies, the way Brigitte smiles when she has a secret, or when Natasha wants only Mommy to kiss her good night?  I begin to wake them; first Brigitte.  I have to let her know that she has to take care of her baby sister.  I lean in and start giving her kisses all around her beautiful, round, freckled face.  She opens her eyes and smiles at me.  She knows today her life is going to change.  I have tried to explain to her in detail what is going to happen and at ten she has an idea, but she is still struggling.  I take her to the bathroom and run a bath for her.  She stands there looking at me intently and silently.  I ask her if she wants bubbles today, but tears start streaming down her face.  I rush to her and hold her tightly; I want to scoop her up in my arms and run away, but I have to put on a brave face for her.  I let her cry and eventually our tears mix in together.  I tell that no matter what happens today I will always be her mommy; that today is going to be a test of how strong we all really are.  I need her to be a big girl today; I need to be a big girl today.  I leave her with the bath running and go to get Natasha up.



My chocolate-colored child is sleeping deeply.  I stand there for a moment looking at her.  She has her teddy held tightly against her chest; her uncontrollable hair is sticking up and her thumb is still trapped between her heart shaped lips.  I snuggle next to her and inhale the sweet smell of my baby.  This is it; I have to get her up and interrupt her good dreams for the nightmare that is about to begin.  I finally find the courage to wake her and begin to get her ready.  “I love you Mommy; you’re my favorite Mommy.”  I look at her and smile.  I know she is trying to make me feel better and for a moment everything is okay.  Natasha is a strong child.  She may be the baby but she is the one that always comforts Brigitte when things are tough.  I know she won’t let anyone feel her pain.  I worry that this will take her over the edge and she will learn to keep everyone at a distance.  I finally get my children dressed and ready for the school bus.  It’s a struggle to get them through the door, but with lots of hugs and kisses we manage to walk the short distance.  I stare at them for a long time.  I want to remember them with smiles on their faces.  The bus finally pulls up and I hug my girls for the last time.









LYSETTE NAVARRO writes about a childhood of sexual and physical abuse, her days of drug dealing, the strength and support of her two sisters, and never having learned as a little girl “to dream beyond the walls of her north end neighborhood.


After her release from Hampden County Correctional Center in 2002, Lysette remained in touch with the co-founders of VFI. She along with Amy Holmes and Jody Boss were VFI’s original outreach members.


Certified at an AWA training to facilitate creative writing workshops, Lysette now leads workshops in the facility where she once participated in them. She is the recipient of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ Ripple Effect Award and the Dr. Constance M. Bough Award given by JusticeWorks Community to an ex-incarcerated woman who has risen above her own suffering to give back to her community.


Lysette is the mother of two beautiful teenage daughters. She is also a college student about to obtain her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with the addition of a Human Services certificate. She hopes to attend the Frances Perkins Program for non-traditional aged women at Mount Holyoke College.


(Editor's Note: The picture selected for this piece is not a picture of the author or her family.)