I am such a schmuck. I received another wonderful letter from my daughter who will be a junior in college this fall and I feel joyous and terrible at the same time. I truly messed up her life as well. She is at her summer job and her letters are filled with the brightness of the summer fun she is having and imparting, despite the incarceration of her dear old dad.

I am blessed in that she writes so often. I return letters almost immediately, answering her questions and telling her about life inside corrections. It is not the same as speaking with her or being with her, and I do miss her terribly. I do not know the reaction my letters generate, but I am so very grateful for her constant correspondence back to me. I can only imagine the pain, shame and embarrassment she is dealing with, explaining to her friends why her dad isn’t visiting. Once she returns to college and resumes playing collegiate volleyball, people will know something is amiss when her dad isn’t there cheering her on in the home games which I rarely missed even though it was three hours away. There I’d be with my Cat hat, meowing for the good blocks or kills she made to the amusement of many. But no more. I try not to dwell on that fact as it saddens me too much, so I am sure it affects her too. How could anyone harm an innocent, young, beautiful girl the way I have? What a schmuck.

So I write her at least two letters a month, sometimes more, not even waiting for her reply to my previous one. I “put on a happy face” as I have been counseled to do, not troubling her with the minutia and pain of daily life here. We do share a faith that is growing in me and had more developed in her, most likely as she had no choice. Either sink or swim, and she has chosen to swim with the Lord to get her through, a wise choice. At least that gives us another topic to talk about and share. She tells me that things happen for a reason and I am still struggling with this whole situation.

At first she didn’t write, so I was not sure what she was thinking. It was not until later at the maximum security facility, about the time I was weaning off meds that I received my first letter from her and found she wanted to keep our relationship going. It took me over ten minutes to read it, mainly because I couldn’t stop crying as I read it. She did comment that we now have an opportunity to dialogue more than we might have otherwise about things. In this day and age of electronic communication it is getting rare for anyone to pen a letter anymore – I mean with a real pen and paper. It warms me so much that she takes the time to do that, especially because I feel so unworthy.

Yes I know I am a child of God and loved by him and all that. It’s just in this world, this side of heaven, my crime is a serious thing and has affected many, my children being the more affected ones. I pray so often for us to stay connected, for us to stay close and not lose the relationship I lived with them through her first 19 years. I remember catching her as she was born during our planned home birth that very early June morning, such a small bundle of joy, so quiet and calm. Nothing can take that or the thousand of other moments together we have experienced away, thank goodness. I just want an opportunity to build more, but not from here. I am also concerned that we will be able to keep her in a private college with me in here, not out there earning and paying bills. She doesn’t deserve to be pulled out because of my actions.

I know the Bible, specifically the apostle Paul, teaches us to be us to be happy in all situations. Right now that is difficult. What my mind knows often doesn’t reach my heart as I yearn for her to be with me, hearing her laugh and talk so easily as we have in the past. Having her brother here for the festival that day was so wonderful and spoke volumes to me about his intentions for our future together. He wants to work through this mess and stay close. My dear hope is that my daughter will also, and it appears by her letters she is. I know I have to keep making the inside corrections to stay on the right path, and I fully intend to do so. It is just I feel so terribly right now in causing all the grief and heartache I have for her. It is a constant battle for me to stay positive and focused and not get pulled down in the self-pity or self destructive mire I was in before, especially when I know I was such a self-serving, egotistical, arrogant schmuck.


  1. James, you are blessed. Your have your children in your life, and you are able to show your appreciation of them to them! What an answer to your prayers all those years ago, and what a statement of your children and their character (Honor your parents). They must both be very special people.

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