lora beth hernandez
Surviving the Loss of a Child
Our Lora Beth

December 18, 1998

I wanted to write this letter to let you know the way I feel about you and I. I don’t 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 I’ve said, didn’t say; did, didn’t do. I don’t think I really appreciated that gift you gave me until tonight when I was reading through the entire thing. It stirred up all these “sisterly” emotions in me like never before. I tried to sit down and write you a poem to say just the right words, but it didn’t go very well so I resorted to this letter.

It’s hard leaving home but it feels so good! All my life you’ve 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 “fashion trends” 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 didn’t let others’ 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 don’t 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 didn’t affect me in the least bit. How cold I must have seemed to you but I guess I didn’t know how to react in that situation...you had never gone through it for me to mimic. It sounds pathetic, I know, but it’s so true. Crystal, I love you so much and cherish you and our memories more than you’ll know. I’ve done some growing up since I’ve been away from home but thankfully you went through it first so I sorta knew what to expect!

I’m going to sound like a terrible person when I say this but in a way I’m 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 would’ve had a “normal childhood.” But honestly I’m happy with the one we had. Our lives weren’t politically perfect but who’s 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 it’s 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, you’re 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 it’s lifted me up when I needed it most. I hope when we’re old we’re just like sisters on TV who lived right across the street from each other {referring to a special she had seen on 20/20}.

It’s hard living my life apart from you but it’s also helping me become my own person. I feel like we’re leaving each other in a way. You’re going to be headed your separate way and starting your own life and I’m in college finding where mine is headed. We don’t live a door down from each other anymore, we don’t share the same bathroom, and we’re 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 wouldn’t just leave me there by myself. I know that was selfish and childish of me, but it’s all that I ever knew. Now that I left home I know you’re not coming back and neither am I, you don’t know how hard that is for me. I can handle a short-term separation from you as long as I know that sometime, somewhere we’ll be together again like we always were. But knowing that we’re separated for good is a little bit harder to swallow. I’m finally closing the door on our life together at home but I’ll always look in the window to see what we had.

I love you so much more than you’ll ever know, Crystal. I’m so proud of all you’ve done with yourself and thank you so much for the example and leadership you set before my eyes. Without you in my life I don’t know where I’d be, but with you I see what a strong person I’ve become. Through trials and tribulations you’re 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