[dropcap]Dear Dad,[/dropcap]

It has been a while since we last spoke. Actually, we never got the chance because of the distance that separated us. I believed ever since I was a child and from the stories I heard about you from the family, you were a pretty cool dad.

It is crazy because I really do not know that to be true any more. Was it true or was it a lie? Growing up, you got to see me and you gave me a lot of advice as a child. But looking at the situations that occurred and all the terrible things I was told that you did which I can’t even mention here, all I have to say is one thing. Did you really mean the advice you took time to program into my mind? Did you believe I would follow you in case I became a reflection of you? It is funny because you wanted me to become a successful man.

But from what the family has told and from noticing your past life, you did not mean one WORD of what you said! Only if you had looked, noticed and reflected on who I had become while you were alive, but you did not. You failed to try. You failed to succeed as if you were self driven or in an unorthodox state of mind. Yeah I got it. Everything felt good and happened for a reason.

But what about when I was born? What did you see in me? If you were a real father who cared, you would have looked through a mirror and noticed me as I was born. I am a reflection of you, right? So what happened?

[pullquote_right]I am a reflection of you, right? So what happened?”[/pullquote_right]

When I look in this mirror of life, I do not see you. I cannot even imagine you in it. Not one sight. That brings me to another question, are you my real father? If you were, you would have looked me in my eyes as a child and noticed my future. You could have had a better future.

Your death was nothing but a mirror looked upon and glazed off in the reflection of the world’s lust that you breathe. I needed you, we needed you as a family. Many times, I looked in the mirror to you for a helping hand and noticed you were not there. You were not there through the hurt, the tears, the abuse and all the other terrible things that happened.

[pullquote_right]I needed you, we needed you as a family.”[/pullquote_right]

Growing up, I never thought I would live passed my sixth grade year. I had no protection from you. I was lost in my own mind. I wondered for many years trying to find myself. Who did I belong to? Was I really your child?

At your funeral, I was torn up and shedding tears as I sat lost in my mind. Since then, I have grown up and done many things I dreamed of doing. But there seemed to be a hole in my heart that was impossible to fill. It is one thing I can never have again. Honestly, it is you. I know you will always be by my side and look over me but you were not there to fill the hole in my heart. It remains empty and cold, through everything that has happened over the past few years with you, and this life I have lived for 19 years.

I still seek to forgive you. I mean it. Even though you could not find the image to see me in your eyes, I imagined and smiled as I dreamt of you in mine. These words may be harsh and blunt, but it is the emotion built up in me as I pour out in love. It rains over your grave. Knowing that I have said what I need to say, I also want to say I love you, dad.

I lived the dream you envisioned me in. Now there is one more thing. I leave you in this quote as I will remember the little time I had with you. “Never leave your heart ripped between the lines of life, nurture it as it refines the past in the eyes of your future. Though the stars walk backward, your life must move forward. Seal the hurt and trust your heart.”

Happy Father’s Day, I never stopped loving you.

Your Son,

Kevin Shelton

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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