A Visit to Prison

As I pulled myself together, took a deep breath in, I knew it was time. I picked up the phone and I booked a visit…

We had been writing to one another, weekly, for almost one whole year. I had not seen him in almost two years – I missed him so much.

I wearily and anxiously made my way in to HMP Low Moss Prison. I could feel the palms of my hands sweating and the back of my neck burning. I was uncomfortable, frightened and I felt vulnerable. I was here alone; but I was here to visit someone extremely close to me who I care about so much. I needed him to know that.

It all seemed a bit like ‘airport security’ (only more intimidating). I had to put all of my belongings – and I mean all of my belongings –  in a locker. I was not allowed my mobile phone in with me, a jacket, a bag – not even a £5 note. I was shocked when they had told me I could not take a note in with me (apparently it had to be coins). I felt so bad as I had wanted to get some juice and something to eat for the person I was going to see and I. I asked if they could give me some coins as it was my first time here and I did not know – but to no avail. So I went in with nothing. Next, I had to take my boots off and put my locker key through a scanner thing and walk through a big device to see if it beeped. I was all good – of course – and free to go on through. It was a very strict, slow and sharp process. I was glad once it was over.

Next I was directed to the visiting room. It was massive – filled with tables and other people waiting to see their loved ones – it was nothing like I had imagined. I began to feel extremely nervous. What if he doesn’t recognise me after all this time? What if he is disappointed that it has took me all this time to come see him? What if? My mind was working overtime. Suddenly, a door in the far distance opened, and one by one the prisoners came out. I watched their faces light up as they saw their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, other halves, friends and family. Then I saw him. He stood out like a candle among the darkness. It was really him. He didn’t notice me at first but then our eyes met; we shared a hug and a huge grin appeared on both our faces. I embraced this moment – and it is one that I will never forget.

We talked. And then we talked. And then we talked some more. I felt as though we were the only two people in the room and nothing else mattered. I began to confide in him, talk to him, share things with him. It was although he had never been away all of this time. I realised how important he is to me. There and then. I wished I could tell him this: I couldn’t. I could not find the words.

The hour flew in so quickly. I was not ready to leave. I wanted to stay a while longer. There was so much I had not said; so much that I wanted to say. We hugged, I looked at him, and I hugged him again. I felt a lump in my throat. I wanted to tell him that I was so sorry for not coming sooner. But he knew.

As I watched him walk away, and through the doors, back in to nothingness – as he waved me off – my heart sank. I felt as broken as a shattered dream. I felt empty.

I was glad I visited him. I was pleased to have seen him in person and hear his voice. But, boy, did it hurt…

I will go and see him again. Sooner this time. I will not leave it as long in the future. Life is too short. Make sure you spend your time wisely with those that you love.

Until next time
Charlene McElhinney


EMAIL: charlenemcelhinney@icloud.com


  1. June 11, 2017 / 5:25 pm

    This read so beautifully Charlene! Can tell it was a very meaningful day for you x

  2. July 14, 2017 / 11:34 am

    This was such a well-written post. I love how true it was and how you spoke about how you felt the whole way through. You should be truly proud of yourself for going and for writing about it so well.

    Lisa | Soho Stripes

  3. March 16, 2018 / 8:22 am

    Beautiful Post ! I cant imagine how you must of felt.

  4. July 23, 2018 / 5:39 am

    A wonderful read, Charlene! I love it. I was hooked all the way through.

  5. baybythesea
    October 1, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Beautiful. A unique insight into something most of us – luckily for us – never have to face. You’re one brave lady.

    Tracy xxx


  6. Jimmy
    October 20, 2018 / 7:46 am

    Oh my Charlene this was a beautiful read. I’m glad that what seemed so daunting turned itself around to be a more pleasant experience. And given the circumstances I was happy to see that you were able to connect so comfortably x

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