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Dear Jane,

I never knew how much I would miss our family until I moved to New York City. You graduated from college and went straight to Utah. You were always so desperate to come home and see everyone and I never really understood it. I was constantly back and forth between school and home and, since I was still in the area, family events. Then the year after I graduated I was home, working with Dad every day and hanging out and watching TV with Mom most nights. When I decided to apply to MFA programs, my main thought was “fuck the shit out of Syracuse. No fucking way am I staying here!” I got accepted to a school in NYC and there was no looking back. Until I got to New York.

I missed you. I still miss you. There are those moments, like what you had, where I am overcome with a memory or nostalgia. I remember lying on the top bunk in the dark and you whispering to me, “Libby, tell me a story.” I remember making you tell me one back and thinking that your stories were so much better than mine, but you kept asking for more, so I kept telling them. I remember the first night you “babysat” me by yourself and you showed me how to make a coaster to distract me from Mom and Dad not being there. I remember you convincing me that the water was better than the milk I wanted to go with my cookies. I remember thinking I was so strong because you told me your arms were tired and could I please stir the cookie dough?

I am at times a little jealous of your strong ties with our family because there is a part of me that keeps me pulled just slightly back, looking in from a distance. You love unconditionally, and protect, and listen and know everything. I remember all of our cousins loved you best, and rightly so, because you were the kinder one who shared toys and played with the little ones who everyone else excluded. I remember feeling awkward and unsure because I never knew what was the right thing to talk about or to say, and no one ever listened to my stories like you did.

It wasn’t until I left that I realized I was living a self-fulling prophecy. I thought everyone saw me as weird and awkward so I was obstinately weird and awkward and in everyone’s face. It wasn’t until I came home and sat in our aunts’ kitchens and was myself, unapologetically, but not aggressively that I realized our family loves me even if I worry that they don’t understand me. They love me because I am family, and that means accepting all my quirks and just shrugging and saying “that’s Libby,” but daring anyone else to make fun of me.

I am glad that you are finally finding some peace and healing after Grandpa’s death. I am so very grateful that he had you at his bedside when he finally left this earth, but do me a favor. Do not keep the promise you made to him. No more worrying. We both need to move beyond the anxiety that has plagued us our whole lives. We need to be cautious and plan and give decisions the proper amount of consideration, but we need to stop worrying.

With love and songs,