Hi! It’s me! Lily!
OMG WHAT A DAY!!!
So after I wrote last night’s post I just kind of cried it out. It’s hard to find privacy in a room where there are five girls and five bed rolls, so I just covered up the best I could and tried to cry quietly. But… Liz wasn’t fooled. She climbed into my bed roll with me, and I just lost it then. I couldn’t help it. I was so sad. I clung to her and tried to wail quietly, but it wasn’t quietly enough. Ai came over and…. gave me a head pat.
OMG. I’ve never laughed and cried so hard at the same time before. That was the most Japanese anime thing she could have possibly done. I told you she was mischievous. Finally, I had cried it out, and told them what was bothering me. I told them all about Lily Day and how I was missing my family and… how last year’s Lily day was the day they showed me they actually loved me, and I’d be missing it. Liz was very much a comfort. I don’t know if Ai understood but she knew I was sad. Honestly, that head pat was the best and funniest thing she could have done, it kind of broke the mood. Finally, I drifted off, and I guess Liz went back to her own bedroll.
This morning I was still very sad. I went to breakfast, and Emiko wanted to talk to me privately. We went into our room while everyone else was eating. She sat down on a bed roll next to mine.
“Ai told me something was bothering you. That you… leaked like a waterfall last night, as she put it.” I giggled in spite of myself at the turn of phrase.
“It’s Lily Day.”
“I see,” she said. I’d explained to her a little about Lily Day but I didn’t go into huge details. She was quiet for a moment, and so was I.
“it’s the day you found out you had a family.”
I nodded. She sighed.
“Yuriko… Lily,” she said quietly, “When I gave you up, it was a right decision. I hated having to make it and I wanted very much to keep you, but I couldn’t. But… not the day goes by that I don’t regret making it. Spe… spending so much time with you this week I realized how much I’d lost… how much I’d taken from you, too.” A tear was leaking from her eye. “I gave birth to you, but I gave up the right to be called your mother when I… when I gave up the right to be called your mother. That right goes to Sabby now, and… and Lily Day is the day when she showed you she deserved to be called that.”
She wiped her eye. “But… that doesn’t mean that you mean nothing to me. I know I gave you up. And I can’t give you a Lily Day because I gave up the right to that. But… let me try to make it up to you today. Please.”
“Just let me try.” He lip was quivering. “Please.” She.. .actually bowed. Like a Japanese person would to another Japanese person.
How could I say no to that?
So we left the room again, and I sat down and ate breakfast. Ojiisan and Obaasan had made a nice, simple Japanese breakfast, as they usually did, and it was, as always, delicious. American breakfasts tend to be heavy and carb loaded, but they like fish and rice and juices. It’s nice.
Afterwards, she told me to put on my kimono. I asked her why, she said to just do it, I’ll see. So, I did, and she put hers on, and we walked to a nearby shrine. She bought me an ema and bought one for herself too, and asked me to write my wish on it. She wrote a wish on hers too, and we bowed and clapped and bowed and hung the wish on the shrine. She wrote hers in Japanese, and I wrote mine in English. I didn’t really understand hers when I read it, but I think it said something like “I wish my daughter the long and happy life I couldn’t give her”.
We walked then to a nearby Japanese garden, and we just walked through it. It was very peaceful and serene. We sat on a bench, and she turned to me. “This is the one thing I can give you that Dave and Sabby can’t and never will be able to. They’ll be able to give you a home and a family and a sister and brother, and… and I can’t. Not anymore. But… but I can give you your heritage, or at least a part of it. I hope…” she sniffled. “I hope that’s something you value.”
I lowered my eyes. “All I ever wanted, from the moment I was found, was to know who I am. I was looking back on my diary and I wrote that all I wanted was a name and birthday. Those are the two things you gave me. I… I wish It’d been different, but… But at least I know you now.”
She bowed. “Come home. I can’t do Lily Day like your parents can. I’m not them. But I’ll do it my own way. I’ll do Yuriko Day. I asked them what you liked, and, they said two things. We’ll do those today. Okay?”
I nodded. She really was trying.
And… well… she didn’t disappoint. Turns out there’s a real honest to kami waterpark in Saitama. Ojiisan and Obaasan didn’t want to go – they’re a bit old for the waterpark, they said, but she took all of us and we had a blast. Japanese squeal just as much as Americans when they’re sliding down a waterslide, but usually interspersed with “kowaikowaikowaikowai”. Hahaha. Then afterwards we went to a Godiva Chocolates and, well, all that stuff Liz got at the konbini looked awful by comparison. I mean, this was the good stuff. She told me to buy what I wanted, and, well… I am now full of chocolate.
But she understood the spirit of Lily Day. You know how they say Christmas isn’t about the gifts? It’s not. It’s not about the gifts or the music or the red and green or the tree, it’s about doing things as a family and tradition and ceremony. And Lily Day… it’s about my family. It’s about the day I, even if unofficially, became someone’s daughter, instead of just someone’s charity case. It’s about the day I was shown how much I was loved and wanted by people who loved and wanted me. And… she understood that. She took me to the waterpark and the chocolate place because she wanted to show me that even if she had to give me up, I’m loved and wanted now. Today is the day she became family too, not just the woman who gave birth to me.
I’m not sad anymore. Sabby, I know you read this. You’re my mother. No one will ever take that from you. You’re the one who took me in and adopted me and went all Claire Huxtable on me when I did stupid stuff and… and is always there for me when I need you and I love you and you know that. But… Emiko will always have a place in my life too. I didn’t know if I’d grow to love her, but I do.