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Every time I hear John Mayer’s song “Daughters,” I get a gut-wrenching feeling. I have twin daughters out there in the world, and by coming to prison, I let them down. 

One daughter, the oldest, wrote to me seven years ago. As Daddy’s girl, she wrote the first time to tell me this: “Hey Dad, I miss you so much. I don’t really have much to say, but I wanted to write you a letter anyways. I wish there was an easier way to talk to you, but I guess this is better than nothing.” 

Nothing. That is what I felt like when I first read it. That is what I feel each time I read it. My daughter wrote to me once more, and then, never again. I still have the letters. After all these years, I still have the letters. 

Some say words have power. I would agree. I’ve read Shakespeare, Chaucer and the Bible. But somehow, I love the words by my daughter the most. For me at least, my coming to prison was too-heavy of a burden for my family and friends to maintain contact. While the words they don’t communicate are silent, the language is clear: we don’t care. There is an old Arabic proverb which says, “To learn another language is to gain another soul.” My daughter, so young back then, conveyed the language of love. 

In her letter, my daughter relayed all the musical instruments she was trying to master. She was always so talented. could not understand her talent, but I knew enough to support it. Being away during her formative years, I know I let her down. That feeling for an old soldier is like losing a piece of me; I lost my soul. 

As I approach my time to leave prison, I am compiling the 20 songs that I wrote. Some are holy, some are silly, and all are basic. If the proverb that, “to learn another language is to gain another soul,” is true, through learning music I will get mine back. This time, my soul will be infused with the inspiration of my daughter, daddy’s girl. She is my muse in music.

Jayden Grace Minatani — “I love you, too!” 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Corey Minatani is a writer formerly incarcerated in Washington state. He has a doctorate in ministry in theology at International Christian College and Seminary. He is also pursuing a paralegal certificate from Blackstone Career Institute. As an industrial/organizational psychologist, he evaluates prison college pedagogy, operations and grievance systems. Corey’s pieces are submitted via American Prison Writing Archive, a partner of the Prison Journalism Project.