Meeting Courtney and Things I Miss the Most in Prison

Courtney & Portia
Courtney and Portia

It’s been a pretty good week.  I finally received my garments and I’m so grateful to have them.  

I miss my family so much!  I miss every detail of their faces.  CJ’s laugh, Sadie’s sassy attitude, Shelby’s sweet and tender face, and her beautiful presence in my life.  I miss driving anywhere with Jackson and cheering at his ball games.  I worry that he doesn’t know how amazing he is!   I miss calling Jace whenever I want and hearing his kind voice tell me how he’s doing and how much he loves me.  I miss everything about Chad!  I miss kissing him and holding his hand. I miss talking late after we put the kids to bed.  I miss how I feel when he’s standing next to me:)  

Glad for Divine Moments

My family represents everything good and right in this world to me. So many women here have never felt what it’s like to have a family.  Many are scarred with tattoos and others with scars that aren’t so visible and it’s hard to see people’s true nature.  

I am grateful when divine moments come and I can see a glimpse of the love our Father in Heaven has for each of them.  It’s in those moments that I see perfection and sometimes I think this isn’t a prison, it’s a safe house.  A place where women can rest from their suffering and heal their wounds.  A place where they are protected from many of the worldly pleasures that cause so much pain.

This prison compound used to be an Army barracks years ago.  There are 3 main housing units on the compound and each unit houses around 500 women and it can get very loud and overwhelming at times,  not to mention the unbearable heat.  

My first day overwhelming! Meeting Courtney

I walked into the loud dayroom and wanted to cry.  I was scared to death.   A girl in our unit named Courtney came up to me and introduced herself,  I just walked away and stayed to myself.

Courtney is 26 years old with beautiful long, blond hair.  She is confident and strong and had her hair tied up so I could see the 2 dominant tattoos on her neck.  One say’s, “Haters Make Us Famous” and the other says, “Loyalty and Deceit”  To be honest I was a little intimidated.  

When I arrived, It took me a while to get grounded and stop crying.  A lot of prayers and two priesthood blessings later and prison is a whole new place 🙂  As I have gotten to know Courtney better, she has become like a daughter to me, and I see her so differently.  

Last night I was on the computer, and she came up and kissed my head and said goodnight sweet lady. Then she bounced away like a little girl.

Courtney is the kind of person that I probably wouldn’t meet outside of prison.  She has lived a rough life starting with trauma and abuse when she was 12 years old.

I can’t imagine my Sadie or any 12-year-old suffering through some of the pain Courtney has been through.  She learned to take care of herself until she gave birth to her daughter at the age of 19.   She said,  

“I thought love only causes pain, then I finally opened my heart again and let my little girl in.”

She loves Natalie but is careful not to open up too much, or she cries.  I don’t get very far on the compound without Courtney trailing behind me 🙂

My Favorite Day

Sunday is my favorite day in Prison.  I miss my family terribly but going to our Sunday service is a lifeline!  I was eating dinner with Courtney and our friend Patti right before church, and Courtney said,

“Why haven’t you invited me to your Mormon church?”  

I was surprised because  Courtney and Patti don’t strike me as the church going type 🙂 I quickly repented of my judgment of them and told them they could come over at 6:30 when the missionaries arrive.  

I’m ashamed to say I was a little apprehensive.  Our group met for scripture study at 5:30 and I told the other girls we might have a few visitors.  It’s not that I don’t want to share the gospel, but that’s the time we get with the missionaries, and it’s sacred to me. Courtney and Patti haven’t found the peace the Gospel brings,  I’m new here and didn’t want to take a chance and offend anyone.

Just after the missionaries arrived Courtney and Patti walked in, and It was so cool to have them there.  I think they liked it, both of them asked if they could come again 🙂  We had two sets of missionaries and they were glad to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yesterday while I was walking with Courtney I asked her what she thought of the Church of Jesus Christ service.  She said,  

“I don’t know Portia but  I think that you’re amazing!   There are things about other religions that I like too.”  

She smiled and continued,  

“I mean I like the Catholic church because you can just say a couple of Hail Marys and continue screwing up.  It seems like a lot easier way to go.”  

I had just printed one of Chad’s emails and had it in my pocket.  I said,  

“I understand Courtney, Our church has standards and that can seem hard at times but  If you only knew how rewarding it is…”

Then I told her I wanted to share a letter I had in my pocket that Chad had written to me.

Here’s part of the letter ( Poor Chad thought he wouldn’t have to worry about me embarrassing him anymore)

Letter from Chad

To My Girl,
Portia,  have I told you how much I love you lately?  

Every day,  all day I think about you.  I think about the good times we’ve had and look forward to the times ahead, and it makes me smile.  We have so much,  and so much to look forward to.  Is there any way that we can pick you up Wednesday so that you can go to Lake Powell with us?  I’m sure that they can get by without you for a week and we can have you back by next Friday.  There won’t be any cell phones,  no TV, and no computers so it’ll be a lot like jail.  

We can have Jackson talk mean to you like a guard?  I’ll make some calls, and we’ll see if we can put that together because it’s making a lot of sense as I write this.  I’ll talk to Lisa and see if you can bring a couple of friends?
I love you, Portia, be good and keep your sweats tied tight.

I can’t imagine a life without Chad.  He really is my hero…..

When I got done reading the letter Courtney was quiet,  I started babbling about my sweet husband and when I looked at her she had tears streaming down her cheeks,  she put her head on my shoulder and said,

“Oh Portia,  I want to have a love like yours someday.”

Today I’m grateful for a love like ours,  I’m grateful for the love and support you have all shown to our family,  I am eternally grateful for an all powerful Father in Heaven who never gives up on his children.  I love the Gospel and know all things will be made right in time 🙂