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An Open Letter to Papa

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Geneseo chapter.

Dear Papa,


Happy birthday. I saw some posts a few days ago on Facebook where people were saying they missed you and talking about how old you would be. Sandy, mom, Aunt Linda. I couldn’t bring myself to look at Facebook. I don’t know if it’s not healthy for me to avoid you or if people saw me as insensitive when I didn’t post anything about you on your birthday. I don’t really care, though. I miss you in my own way.


I’ve changed a lot since you died. I graduated high school and I’m in college now, which I know you’d be so proud to see. I’ve grown more confident in myself and I try to let myself feel whatever emotions I’m feeling and be myself around everyone I meet. It’ll be two years in a few months. I don’t know how I got through 2016; with you, stress from school, trying to figure out what I was gonna do with my life, trying to figure out who I was and where I belong.



I have a secret that I haven’t told anybody. I have several letters written to you. I have one I wrote before and one after. The first one was meant to be a coming out letter and I never gave it to you. There’s a part of me, no matter how much I write, that will never be able to let go of that feeling of not being able to tell you who I am. I tried to let go of that feeling last summer, when I randomly bought a birthday card and rode my bike all the way to the river just to sit there and feel closer to you and write. People tell me that you would’ve been fine, you would’ve been happy and proud. I believe them, but I don’t know how to tell them a big part of me is craving to see it myself. I want to hear your jokes. I want to see you in protective mode. I know when mom first met dad you were naturally skeptical of him and tried to scare him away, but deep down you were happy for her. I want that. I don’t know how to tell people I want to bring a girl to your house and sit around the campfire and hear you tease me while I try to finish a silly ghost story and hide that I’m blushing in the dark. I wanted it when I wrote my first letter, my second letter, and I still do now.


I don’t want you to think I haven’t been okay, though. It’s only in the moments that I really think about it or get in a vulnerable place that I cry like I used to. Every time I think about the fact that I’m crying, I just picture you saying, “What are ya crying for?” and it makes me laugh. I think it helps to share this. I think I should give Sandy my letters, she would like them. I don’t think she gets too lonely without you in the house—she’s got a lot of family to surround herself with. But I know she still really misses you, and maybe sharing the letters will help both of us.


I feel like people keep talking about seeing you in their dreams. Can you come to mine soon? I had a good one a long time ago, but I’d like one with a hug. That’s all I ask. I miss you.


Your grandkid, Kayla


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Kayla Glennon

Geneseo '21

Kayla is a junior English major who is optimistic but enjoys exploring lots of emotions, not just ignoring the "bad" ones. They love writing silly things but also being serious, because there are a lot of things that matter and need to be talked about, but giving yourself a break is important too. They love writing about literature but also coming up with ideas for stories of their own. Kayla is constantly just trying to be themself and trying to be around people that make them happy.
Victoria Cooke is a Senior History and Adolescence Education major with a Women's and Gender Studies minor at SUNY Geneseo. Apart from being an editor and the founder of Her Campus at Geneseo, she is also the co-president of Voices for Planned Parenthood and a Curator for TEDxSUNYGeneseo. Her passions include feminism, reading, advocating for social justice, and crafting. In the future, she hopes to inspire the next generation of history nerds and activists.