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My child cries for the father inside.

Her whole life lived with a dad misplaced within this prison. As another had to take my place, not knowing the hurt and pain her young body and mind faced …

As the shards of life sliced through the true you that bleeds excessively because of holding on to something you are still trying to figure out.

Reminded daily of the past that grabs your heart and leaves open wounds deeper than the darkest abyss you continue to be in. That thing you now find freedom in.

Not wanting anyone to see in, and still, hope does seep in, that this world will forgive you for not being who they hoped you would be.

Is this the last time I will see them?

Facing time is the easy part of a life designed to keep the family apart as we strive to keep alive the man inside who now knows the importance of a father in a child’s life.

No more excuses to the abuses heaped upon the women we have lied to, tried to deny to and the children’s lives we had no part to because of part-time coming through.

We can’t get mad if she does not call you “Dad,” as “Father” is a technical term.

What is there to show for the life lived beyond the hurt we have caused those children we claim to care for, have not been there for, and still talk so much about with fits of doubt?

How can we expect to be greeted with open arms by someone who does not know us but by anything other than half-truths of the whole picture even we are ashamed to tell?

All we have given is shattered glass and broken mirrors.

I love you my child and I am sorry.

Distorted images that cast back a lack of a proper reflection she is supposed to see. She may grow to be a strong independent with great possibility. A lifetime to make sense of.

No father to raise her above what the world meant for her, strangers holding contempt for her. Not knowing what a father truly meant for her.

Can she accept that I am a part of her?

How quick to lay claim on futureless pipe dreams, sitting in prison serving life not knowing what family life really means. Down her face painful tears have streamed.

Her strength and resilience abound for the life she herself has made, not by anything a father to her I gave. A woman beyond measure, she stands proud in her own way.

She is a woman and I call her my daughter anyway.

What of me to her I have given I may not know, for who of me she is she may not show. I am proud of my child and want the whole world to know …

She’s made it on her own, beyond broken mirrors and shattered glass.

I love you my child and I am sorry.

I love you my child and I am sorry.

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.

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Jeffrey Shockley

Jeffrey Shockley is a writer incarcerated in Pennsylvania.