To My Father Who Went To Prison For A Business-Related Charge
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Politics and Activism

To My Father Who Went To Prison For A Business-Related Charge

A letter of reflection and forgiveness.

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To My Father Who Went To Prison For A Business-Related Charge

Dear Dad,

I will never forget the day when I found out what was happening to you; the day that my world came crashing down. It was the last thing that I was expecting to hear. I was only 12 years old—Frankie was 8, and Matthew was 5. We were barely old enough to understand, we just knew that it was awful and that things were going to change.

Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it truly was. I remember just a month or two before you left, you and Mom told us you had a surprise for us. It ended up being that we were going to go on vacation for spring break, and I cried because I thought you were going to say that you didn’t have to leave, that it was all a mistake.

I remember the weekend before you left, everyone we knew came over to our house to say goodbye. I could really see then how many people loved you and were absolutely distraught over this. I remember everyone coming up to me and telling me that they would be here for me if I needed anything at all; and most really were. The time that you were gone showed me how many great people I had in my life, how many people truly cared about me, and just how amazing our family is.

I remember reading the book of over 300 letters written to the judge by people who loved you, who were trying to get you to stay, and who knew that you were a good person who had made a mistake and gotten into a bad situation. Reading that helped me keep in my heart the belief that despite what was happening, you were still a good person and still a good father; you just had made a mistake.

The day that you left was, and still is, the worst day of my life. I remember not wanting to get out of bed that morning because that meant that it was going to become real. I could not even bear the thought of saying goodbye. It was the first and only time that I have ever seen you cry and it made my heart break into a million pieces. This was hard for us, but I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for you to be away from your three young children, missing them grow up, missing a few birthdays, some graduations, holidays, and knowing that there was absolutely nothing you could do about it.

I’m glad we got to see you as often as we did, but I hated going to that place. I just wanted to be a normal kid with a normal life; but it was far from normal. No one else I knew could relate to my situation. Every Sunday, we made the two-hour drive up to Pennsylvania to see you. Every Sunday. Even on some holidays. Sometimes other family members joined us, sometimes it was just the four of us. I’ll never forget sitting in those plastic gray chairs, talking and trying to pretend like everything was okay. Thinking about Matthew during that time hurts my heart. He was so, so little with very minimal knowledge of what was going on. I can’t imagine how sad he must have been. He was just a kid; we all were. We were too young to be dealing with something like this.

Nothing was the same. Holidays felt empty and strange. The house didn’t feel right. I tried my best to ignore and push away what was going on, but there were many times when I just couldn’t handle it. I am so lucky to have had my mom, my family, and the friends I had during this time. I don’t know what would have happened without them.

By the time you came home, I was 14 and a lot had changed. Two years may not seem like that long of a time, but it is when it is during a significant part of your growing up and maturing. There were times when I was angry; angry at you, angry at the situation itself, angry at all the time that was lost. For a very long time I struggled with these feelings; what happened affected me deeply and I went through a very bad time because of it. But I have slowly started to let these feelings go. To forgive.

You wrote me letters once a week. You called almost every day, any chance that you could get. You made the effort to stay involved in our lives and to be a part of them; and for that, I am grateful. You did the best that you could with the situation that we were in. And you tried as hard as you could to make up for lost time when you came home. You tried. And that’s all I can really ask for. That’s what matters in the end. I know I don’t give you enough credit. I know you didn’t do this to intentionally hurt us. You would never do anything like that. Deep down in my heart, I really do know that. You would do anything for us, and have done everything for us.

One concern of mine had been what people would think or say when they found out. It was in the papers, it was a small town, news traveled fast. I can honestly say that not one person ever said a negative thing about it to me; only positive. Only things like they were sorry for what my family and I were going through, asking if there was anything that they could do for us, that they loved my Dad, and that they knew how good he was. It helped me realize I didn't need to be ashamed of what was happening. I never once felt judged in a situation that could have easily been misconstrued, and that I could have easily been judged for. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such positive and understanding people. I believe that this is why I have grown up to be as open-minded and non-judgmental as I possibly can. I learned just how it important it is to try to be as understanding as possible. Having people like that helped me so much; I sincerely value those who stuck by me during this time, and I always will. I only hope to do the same for others.

Although we lost two years we will have so many more. The past does not matter as much to me anymore. When I think back on this, it usually feels like it was just a bad dream, like it never even happened. It was just a bump in the road that I am so incredibly far from now. My life is completely different than it was back then. I’m different; I’m happy. Our family is happy. We are passed it and we made it through. We continue to learn from it and to deal with the aftermath. We don’t let what happened define us or hold us back; I know you definitely don’t, and that’s something that I admire.

What we went through made me appreciate family my family so much more. I don’t take anything for granted, and I know that I can survive anything after making it through this. We are lucky for what we went through; we did not break because of it, we only got closer and stronger. I don't wish that things were any different. I hope you don’t look back on it too often either, Dad, because you shouldn’t. You paid enough of a price—I realize that now--and it’s time to let it go. That goes for you and me both.

Love,

Maria

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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