So my Sweet Girl,
I have come full circle... I am home. And I hope that you feel like this is home too. I truly never thought this day would come. Your Dad and I left Pennsylvania in 2006 and it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Leaving the comfort of our family and friends strengthened our marriage in ways that that wouldn't have been possible had we otherwise stayed. We learned to lean on each other. This reliance gave us a solid foundation that enabled our relationship to flourish. I am most proud of how we learned to communicate effectively (as we really are opposites). But now, nearly 7 years later, we are a solid unit and you my dear Ellie have molded us into a family. What I learned is that sometimes you need to leave to gain perspective. Ellie, I will encourage you to spread your wings as you grow. Growing up in a small town can be such a great opportunity. Namely it shelters you from a lot of the world's woes. However, small town life can be confining and smothering. I will push you to travel and try new things but I will also remind you that nothing is as strong as family. If you choose to follow your Mimi and my paths to move across the country someday, I will fully support you (just as your Mimi did for me) but know that I will make sure our bond stays strong (and be prepared for many visits). No matter how far you go, your family will always be in your heart (and on your doorsteps whenever possible!). That being said, your Dad and I realized that after your brother Kyle's passing and watching you grow, we need to be around those that love us the most. And especially for you, what a better way to develop and grow than being around grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! It does take a village to raise a child and I want you to feel the love and encouragement that I felt growing up amidst our family.
In these next few years, I want you to be comfortable with your family (your Mimi and Poppy won't ever expect you to knock and will expect you to visit for tea often), explore the outdoors (I have many hikes planned), and take advantage of the wonderful academic opportunities (the school district is fantastic). I also want to be able to introduce you to the many cultural places that are within a few hours’ drive- NYC, Philadelphia, and DC. I know we won't have access to a zoo or aquarium (or a decent mall) everyday but the university in the center of our town will offer new possibilities. And I expect you to make new friends here- lots of them. It's so convenient that many of my old friends, whom we will be back with, have children too. You will fit right in.
Most of all Ellie, I want you to feel the security and warmth that being near loved ones bring. You will never have a shortage of people at future concerts, recitals, or award ceremonies. You will never be lonely. But also remember that these things that will be bestowed upon you, you need to reciprocate and show love, respect, and acceptance to in return. If you feel stifled, make sure you find a healthy outlet (writing is that for me). And try to remember how blessed you are to have this opportunity. It wasn't until I moved to Denver that I realized how much I took for granted. When I would think about home, memories of lively dinners, crazy holidays, Saturday lunches, evening theater, daily tea time, reunions during tailgates, and eccentric classes would make me long to go back. And now here we are!
Oh Ellie- the fun we will have. I see so many adventures in our future but the best part of them is that they will be filled with family alongside of us! Never forget where you came from because it is why you are the person you are today and it lays the backbone for who you will become tomorrow. And one final note- home isn't a specific place but one that is filled with love, warmth, security, comfort, friends and family. For me, home is this cloudy small city nestled in a valley in the middle of nowhere- not necessarily because it's beautiful or bustling with activity but because of the people it holds within, the nostalgic memories it has given me, and the bright future it holds for you.