KYNDIA'S STORY - THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERHOOD

We Got Us Now| Guest Contributor:  Kyndia Riley

Every day, I wake up thinking about how my father is waking up in a prison cell and how we live these completely separate lives but we feel the same emotions. Then, every year on one specific day, I begin seeing ads for watches and collared t-shirts; I see photographs of families spending dinners together with their father at the head of the table, having cook-outs, and everything all in the name of Father’s Day.

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To my father and I, this day is a constant reminder that we are beyond separated. He wakes up early every Father’s Day morning, ensures he has $3.75 to call me and then we talk, for only fifteen minutes. We get through our tears with laughter, and by the end of the call, both of us are exhausted. We hear two mandatory beeps to let us know we have less than thirty seconds remaining and the phone call automatically ends. Once we are disconnected, I cry harder because every day he has to be my father from behind bars but on this day, commemorating fathers around the world, he can’t be home. He can’t feel me celebrating what a wonderful father he is.

He can only see my love through black and white letters, lackluster cards, and emails and can only hear my love over a telephone, and vice versa. 

Therefore, for me, Father’s Day is heartbreaking, tear-jerking, and draining. It shows me all the love between daughters/sons and their father’s that I can’t have. Said love that I have never had the opportunity to fully receive because my father has been locked behind bars for the entirety of my life. However, Father’s Day is optimism. Each one is like a penny and when my father comes home, I’ll havesaved the ones we’ve missed and it’ll all be worth something beyond my imagination.

Kyndia Riley is a fourth year/senior student at the University of Virginia. Currently she has her B.S. in Chemistry and her B.A. in Anthropology. She is using her final year to receive her Masters in Education. Since the age of 2, both of her parent’s have been incarcerated within federal prison serving life sentences; therefore, in addition to her studies, Kyndia is an advocate and mentor for children with incarcerated parents with WE GOT US NOW and is working towards an end to mass incarceration so that children will not have to endure the traumatic loss of a parent(s).