Lifestyle

Grieving woman who lost parents and sister writes to prisoner and gets engaged

A woman who lost her parents and sibling within five years became depressed and wanted a way to deal with the painful loneliness.

Laura Belmar, from New York, began writing to a ‘lonely’ prisoner after a friend suggested the idea.

The 30-year-old, who works as a customer service manager, had become suicidal after losing her mother in 2013, father in 2016, and sister in 2018.

Looking to build a friendship with someone who wouldn’t pity her, Laura began writing to Stephen, who has been incarcerated in upstate New York since January 2015.

Laura purchased books that invited readers to ask themselves questions such as ‘what have you never done but would really like to do?’

She wrote her responses and sent them to Stephen, 29, who replied with his own answers.

As they continued their correspondence, a romance blossomed.

By June 2019, the pair were engaged and in December, Laura got a tattoo which reads ‘L&S forever’.

Laura, who doesn’t want to disclose the nature of Stephen’s crime, now visits him every weekend or every other weekend, based on her work schedule.

She endures a six-hour drive to reach his prison, leaving Staten Island at midnight to arrive there at 6 am, in order to be the first visitor in line.

After writing hundreds of letters, they now correspond by email.

‘Getting those letters was the only thing that made me feel alive,’ said Laura.

‘Without him, I probably would have committed suicide. I felt like I didn’t have anyone… everyone around me felt bad for me but he didn’t act like he felt sorry for me. He kept it real with me.’

On her visits, she spends six hours with him.

She added: ‘We are able to hold hands but the correctional officers also let us kiss sometimes.

‘We have to sit across from one another but if I go with his mum I get to sit next to him.

‘On the days I can’t visit we speak on the phone for 30 minutes every day’

They have taken dozens of photos in the prison together, which cost two dollars each. The backdrops of the photos are painted by prison inmates, who also take the photos.

Laura said she cannot imagine herself without Stephen anymore.

‘He gave me a new family. His mum is so good to me as well as his sister and grandmother, and they talk to me everyday.

‘I didn’t think about kids before, or a family…now we both want it so badly. It feels so right. I feel so grateful. I might not be here today if it were not for him.’

Laura hopes that sharing her unusual love story will inspire others in their times of need.

‘I want people to be more open-minded about meeting other people and falling in love,’ she said.

Stephen will be released in 2023, or sooner if he is granted parole.