An Open Letter to my Dad’s Murderer

Hello John,

These are my first direct words to you, and it’s so strange to me. For years I’ve had this nonexistent conversation in my head with you, countless times. There’s simultaneously so much I have to say, yet so few words that are capable of doing the job.

I want you to know that you really messed up. You’ve sat in prison for eleven years now, so I’m sure you understand that. You hated my dad, and you planned his murder for weeks. You had it all set up just as you wanted. When the police showed up, you proudly announced that you murdered him, and you weren’t the least bit sorry. You think your plan was a success, but it wasn’t.

My dad never hurt like you wanted him to. All that rage you held in your heart for him- he never felt it. He was dead instantly. But I felt the pain. And so did my mom. And his two sisters. And my two sisters, three and five, who were too young to remember him. We felt the pain. You also hurt your daughters too. They loved you so much. One of them reached out to me, and comforted me when I was hurting the most. You broke her heart in two, John. But unlike me, no one comforted her. They looked at her like she was the child of a monster. She didn’t deserve that. And honestly, you don’t deserve to sit in prison, alone, yet surrounded by dangerous people. I don’t think you’re dangerous, I think you were angry, and I think you were thoughtlessly selfish. I truly do feel empathy for you, sitting in an underfunded, smelly prison.

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Many times I thought about visiting you. Baking cookies, trying to make amends, maybe trying to understand you. But I’m too much of a coward too, I suppose. I never knew what I would say. Should I apologize and extend my empathy for you sitting in that concrete hellhole? Or should I scream at you for all the good that you sucked out of my life? 

You completely changed my life. I can’t even tell you how different my life would be, were it not for you. I don’t even know what it would be like, but I wish I did. I often day dream about talking to my dad, asking for his advice, getting one more hug, one more ‘I love you’. I wish my parents were divorced instead of this, even if they occasionally fought, I’d like that instead of this abyss of loneliness and ‘what if’s.

I miss him more than I could ever begin to tell you. I day dream of menial day to day stuff that most take for granted. I wish he was here to make his hilariously bad jokes. I wish he was here to tell me my jeans are too tight, or I that need to check the oil more often, or lecture me for being irresponsible. I wish my husband could meet him. I wish they could talk guns and politics. I wish my little sisters could hear him perfectly mimic all the Looney Tunes voices like he used to do for me. I wish my mom and him could have made amends over the petty argument they had that morning. I wish he could go see his sisters, and reunite us all as a family again.

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But I can’t, because of you. 

This is all your fault, and no one can change that. This prison sentence can’t change what you did. It doesn’t matter if you stay there another hundred years, it doesn’t bring my dad back.

So honestly, I don’t even see there being a point to you being in prison. When you finally get to be free here in nine months, I hope you appreciate your daughters. I hope you hug, and kiss, and love your family more than you ever have before. Then I hope you remember my family. You didn’t ruin our lives, but you did change them. I don’t hate you. And I want you to live a happy, fulfilling life. Live the life my dad didn’t get to live. Know that I forgave you years ago, and I hope you forgive yourself too. 

Take care of yourself, John.

– Sarah

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