Dear _______, 

You don’t know me. Not really. We each had a major part to play in each other’s lives. In fact, you took mine. Don’t worry, this letter is not one of anger or guilt, but neither is it a “let’s just forget it and move on” letter. I want you to know a thing or two about me — I had a life. My life was not perfect, but it was mine. I won’t bore you with the stories of how good or bad my life was, because in the end it doesn’t matter. It was my life and I was living it. Now the real reason I’m writing to you is not about my life, it is about yours.

Fine, I can’t live in the physical world anymore. My lungs do not fill with air anymore. My arms do not hug anymore. My body is gone, but I do live on in my family and friend’s memories. 

My question is “how are you living?” You may not live at the house you want or town you want, so join the club. You don’t even know if I am in Heaven or Hell and still you sent me here. Now again, I ask you, how are you living? Are you trying to ease your suffering with drugs and alcohol? I don’t get that choice, so put down the shit and live already. You chose your life and lifestyle over mine, so do me a favor, STOP WASTING IT! Live already.

Are you wasting your life with pointless relationships with people who don’t understand the difference between love and lust, or needs and wants? Look at your friends, would you be proud to introduce them to the person you look up to? Would you introduce them to me? Is this relationship what you are doing with the life you have and I don’t? These friends and girlfriends you are acquiring are determining what you do with your life. You do have choices still and if you don’t believe that, you are dumber than I thought you were.

Listen, so you are in a place that you would rather not be in, with people you would rather not be with, but consider this: are you a person you would rather not be? You are at a point in your life where you need to stop thinking about who you were or are and focus on who you want to be. Don’t forget who you were and are, just stop thinking about it so much that you lose focus. I do not have life, YOU have a life. DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

Who have you helped in the last year, last month, last week, today? Do you help anyone? Have you “had” to tell a lie, steal, con, or manipulate? If you have, then you are living, you are surviving. Is that really enough for you? That is not truly living. Now what do you want from life? You can become educated, law abiding (it’s not such a bad thing once you embrace it), and above all honorable. You can’t escape the fact that you took my life. I am not judging or hating, I am just asking you to do something with your life.

Dorothy Maraglino is serving life without parole in California for first degree felony murder.