This essay was written by a student at Mighty Writers, an education nonprofit that offers free writing classes to over 2,500 inner-city Philadelphia students a year.
This is Saviyah. I wanted to say thank you for my birthday card that you sent me. I absolutely love it and I will cherish it forever. I know I haven’t written you in a long time, but I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I’ve been going to this writing camp on Thursdays and the topic I chose to write about is how to cope with a parent being incarcerated. I really have a lot of feelings about you being locked up; most of them are sad feelings. I'm going to tell you, because you’re my dad, and I want us to have a strong bond, because you’re my dad.
A feeling that I feel very often is jealousy: I get jealous of my little sister Heaven because she has her dad and I don’t. She comes home with all this new stuff and a bunch of different stories about how much fun she had at her dad’s house. Sometimes she calls her dad and he comes to get her and takes her fun places. Now, don't get me wrong, my mom does take me a lot of places and spends time with us a lot so that I won't feel this jealousy, but no matter how much she buys me and takes me out, I will never feel complete, because I don't have my dad there with me.
Dad, I really wish that you would stay out of jail and never go back. You may not know I think about you everyday because my big sister talks about the talks she had with you on the phone. She also posts photos of you on her page and in one of the pictures you’re with a dog—can you tell me about that when you write me back?
When you get out of jail, I want the two of us to go out and spend time together. I would like to spend a summer with you so I can get to know you. I feel like I'm not around you as much as my sisters and brothers, and I also feel left out because I’m not Muslim like the rest of my siblings are.
And Dad, I feel like I need you even more because my grandma recently passed away and wasn't able to celebrate my 13th birthday with me. And I didn’t have you either. Sometimes, Dad, when I’m riding home on the bus from school, if I see a guy with a beard, wearing a nice outfit and nice shoes, I look at him and think, “I wish my dad was here.” That may sound weird but I actually do that and I just realize, man, my dad really is in jail.
Dad, I am sorry I haven’t come to see you but it’s because I have mixed feelings about coming to a jail to see my father. I really don’t even know how long you’ve been in jail. It is kind of depressing having to schedule a time to come see you. I just want to see you when you’re out.
I hoped you enjoyed receiving this letter from me as much as I enjoyed writing it. Love youuuuu, Daddy!!!!!!!
By Saviyah Campbell, 8th grade Mighty Writer
Top photo: Pixabay
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Mighty Writers was founded in 2009 with the mission to teach kids to think clearly and write with clarity. The organization offers free programs for students from elementary through high school at centers in four diverse Philadelphia neighborhoods, including one bilingual location for Spanish-speaking students. Follow Mighty Writers at MightyWriters.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter @MightyWriters.