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Gift Letter from Lora

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December 18, 1998

Crystal,

I wanted to write this letter to let you know the way I feel about you and I. I donít know where to start really, I guess I can tell you why I decided to write this. Tonight I was in my old room looking through my pictures from high school and I saw the book you got me a couple years back about sisters. I went through the entire thing and read everything you had to say. I think me going off to college has really opened my eyes to a lot of things...things Iíve said, didnít say; did, didnít do. I donít think I really appreciated that gift you gave me until tonight when I was reading through the entire thing. It stirred up all these ďsisterlyĒ emotions in me like never before. I tried to sit down and write you a poem to say just the right words, but it didnít go very well so I resorted to this letter.

Itís hard leaving home but it feels so good! All my life youíve been the one who had to experience it first and I sat back and watched...and learned. When you left for college a part of me left too. I thought since you were gone I was the big shot who made all the new ďfashion trendsĒ in great Helena, MT. I thought life was going to be great without you as my over-casting shadow. I never knew I could be so wrong. Crystal, I tried my hardest to do just what you taught me to do in certain situations. I acted strong, proud and didnít let othersí views determine mine. I wanted to be as independent and as much of a leader to my friends as you were to me. I missed you so much but I kept thinking how proud you would be of me if I turned out just like you. I did all that I could and I donít think I even knew what I was doing, until now.

Now, I look back on my last three years of living at home and I wonder why I put such a front up. I acted as though your leaving didnít affect me in the least bit. How cold I must have seemed to you but I guess I didnít know how to react in that situation...you had never gone through it for me to mimic. It sounds pathetic, I know, but itís so true. Crystal, I love you so much and cherish you and our memories more than youíll know. Iíve done some growing up since Iíve been away from home but thankfully you went through it first so I sorta knew what to expect!

Iím going to sound like a terrible person when I say this but in a way Iím almost glad that it was just the three of us for the first few years of my life. You and I have one of the strongest bonds sisters can have because of it. I wonder what it would be like and how we would have turned out if we wouldíve had a ďnormal childhood.Ē But honestly Iím happy with the one we had. Our lives werenít politically perfect but whoís to say what perfect is? All I know is that God truly knew what I needed in a sister when he put the two of us together. I think we did have a perfect childhood because we got to spend it together...what could be more perfect than that?

I feel like a baby crying while I type this out but it just makes me realize how much I miss you, love you, and adore you as a person. As confident as people say I am as a person itís only because of you. You went through things before and showed me the way.

For some reason memories of my childhood are just bits and pieces but every time I think of something, youíre in the picture. Who else could convince me to pee my pants or tickle their back for hours on end like you could? If you would have told me to fly to the moon I think I probably would have tried. I was crazy about you as a child and I still am today. The love you showed me then and now has helped shape me into the person I am but more importantly itís lifted me up when I needed it most. I hope when weíre old weíre just like sisters on TV who lived right across the street from each other {referring to a special she had seen on 20/20}.

Itís hard living my life apart from you but itís also helping me become my own person. I feel like weíre leaving each other in a way. Youíre going to be headed your separate way and starting your own life and Iím in college finding where mine is headed. We donít live a door down from each other anymore, we donít share the same bathroom, and weíre not fighting everyday. Leaving for school has helped me realize that you and I are not the same person anymore. For all of my life you were there. Even when you left for college I had it in my mind that you were still coming home. I mean, I was still at home and surely you wouldnít just leave me there by myself. I know that was selfish and childish of me, but itís all that I ever knew. Now that I left home I know youíre not coming back and neither am I, you donít know how hard that is for me. I can handle a short-term separation from you as long as I know that sometime, somewhere weíll be together again like we always were. But knowing that weíre separated for good is a little bit harder to swallow. Iím finally closing the door on our life together at home but Iíll always look in the window to see what we had.

I love you so much more than youíll ever know, Crystal. Iím so proud of all youíve done with yourself and thank you so much for the example and leadership you set before my eyes. Without you in my life I donít know where Iíd be, but with you I see what a strong person Iíve become. Through trials and tribulations youíre always there and I love you for that. But more importantly I love you for being who you are and for being my sister.

All my love,
Lora Beth