This diary entry is part 1 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m just a girl.  A semi-normal, half-Japanese, mostly bubbly and cheerful and happy girl.  I don’t worry about things like politics and the stock market and taking the kids to school and all the kinds of things that people older than me deal with.  How am I supposed to deal with all of this?  It feels like every time I’ve recovered from one thing, another hits me. Just one thing after another after another.  How am I supposed to bear it?

It’s hard.  It’s really hard.  And it’s a different kind of hard.  With Jack, it was an easy kind of hard.  I fell in love and had to leave him.  Incredible joy and a waterfall of tears.  But this is more… subtle.  It just is.  I have a birth mother.  She hurt me in ways I didn’t even know, and yet, she cared enough to keep me.  Why?  Why did she only care just that much?  I guess it’s something I have to ask her.

I gave Sabby her chocolate shake.  She accepted it and thanked me.  Otherwise, she didn’t talk to me last night.  We went to bed, and I didn’t sleep very well.  I hated the fact that I hurt her so badly.  I didn’t mean to.  Of course I know that she lost her parents, and of course I know it affected her deeply.  But sometimes you don’t think of those things!  Sometimes you just get blinded by your own hurt and that’s the only thing that exists.  And you realize too late that someone else has feelings too, and you just stepped on them.  But this morning she did talk to me.  She told me that I hurt her, and she was wrong.

She told me she was wrong because even though I said something insensitive, she shouldn’t have reacted so harshly.

I said she was right to.  She said, no, she wasn’t.  She said it was understandable, but that’s a different thing from being right.Her feelings towards her parents are her problem, not mine.

Well, maybe.  I still hurt her.

Anyway, we hugged it out, and i’m still sad about it.  She was supposed to be my rock, and I find out she’s just as fragile as I am!

I’m just sad.  Just… just so sad.  I had to leave Jack and then I found out my birth mother abandoned me and… and…  and I can’t handle it.  I don’t even have any tears left.  Sabby tells me she thinks I’m depressed.  I’ve never been depressed before.  She might be right.  My birth mother abandoned me!  She didn’t want me!  How am I supposed to not be depressed??  I was prepared for a lot.  But not that.  I was never prepared for that.

I think I’m going to go stare at a wall now.

Love you all…  ❤️

This diary entry is part 2 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I don’t want to write tonight.  Not anything.  Not even a little.  I guess Sabby thinks it’s still worth doing, so tomorrow another family is going to come over for dinner and see if their daughter will be a good friend for Beth.  I’m not going to say what I think will happen.  I just hope we don’t end up with another Little Miss Priss.

And then Saturday afternoon, after work, my birth mother comes to see me.

I can’t talk to Sabby.  I’ve come to rely on her so much but this is a topic that I don’t think I can talk about with her.  She’s too sensitive.  I don’t have anyone to talk to.  Not anyone who understands.

I…  I don’t want to write tonight.  I don’t want to do anything tonight.  I don’t even want chocolate.  Goodnight.

This diary entry is part 3 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m feeling a little better, but let me explain why.

Today was… dark. I don’t have any word for it.  I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t eat much, I got through my schoolwork but mostly like a robot, not concentrating, not paying attention, and pretty much going to lie down as soon as it was all over.  Sabby came to check on me but I…  I didn’t want to say the wrong thing again, so I just kind of ignored her.  Not in a mean way, but in an “I’m alright leave me alone” kind of way.

I wasn’t mad at her but obviously this is a sore topic for her and, well, yeah.

I think that hurt her but I didn’t know what to say.  Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, right?

So Beth’s “potential friend” and her family came over.  Yeah, that went about as well as I expected.  Wasn’t a Little Miss Priss this time, thankfully, just a girl with nothing in common with Beth.  Cheerleader, bubbly, happy, into boys and makeup and… basically just a nicer and more cheerful version of the friends she’d already had to dump.  I picked at my food and about halfway through the meal I stood up.

“I’m going to my room,” I announced, “Thanks for the meal, nice to meet you.”

Sabby said, a little abruptly, “You didn’t finish your food.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Finish your food.”

“I’m not four,” I said.  “It’s nothing personal.  I’m just not hungry.  And I can’t watch this…  this… anymore.  Like this… this friend dating service for Beth is ever going to work anyway.”

“Lily -,” she said warningly.  Dave gave her a look I couldn’t read, but she wasn’t looking at him.  “I don’t know what’s gotten into you -“

I was getting steamed and that probably showed on my face.  I think Dave saw the signs.

Dave patted her hand.  “Sabby, let it go.  Lily, you can go.  We’ll talk later.”

Sabby looked murderous, but shut up.  I went up to my room and played on my tablet.  Sabby and I have never conflicted like that, but I found myself just not caring.  I love Sabby but right then…  I kinda didn’t like her.

I heard some faint yelling through the walls a little while later.  I couldn’t make out the words, Sabby sounded peeved, and Dave sounded much more under control.

Later, after everything quieted down, there was a knock, and Dave came in. He sat down on the edge of my bed.  I noticed the door stayed partially open.  I guess I understood.  He was quiet for a moment.

“Lily,” he said, “I think Sabby made a mistake.”

“Adopting me,” I said bitterly, doot dooting on my tablet.  “Are you going to abandon me too?”

“No,” he said, calmly.  “Neither of us think that’s a mistake.”  He paused  “She’s too close to your problem.”

I set the tablet aside and sat up.  “What do you mean?”

“She lost her parents when she was little.  You know that.  But now you can’t be open with her because if you try to talk openly with her about it, it triggers her.  The whole topic just makes her angry.  I talked to her about this.  Well, I talked, anyway.”  He chuckled nervously.  “She’s not mad, well, anymore, anyway.  I don’t think she realized.”

“Well, I did,” I said, still with a trace of bitterness in my voice.  “I thought she’d be my rock.  And she…  she’s not.”

He shook his head.  “Not on this topic, she’s not.  Lily,” he said, “We’re adults.  We adopted you.  We love you.  And…” he shook his head sadly.  “We’re as human as you.”

I was quiet.

“Maybe I’m not Sabby,” he said quietly.  “But I’m still here.  Tell me what’s going on.”

“I don’t…”

“No,” he said.  “I understand why you don’t want to talk to Sabby about it.  But I have to insist you talk to me about it.  How you’re behaving is entirely unlike you and I’m not going to have you sulking around the house snapping at everything that moves.  Sabby wasn’t in the right, but neither were you.  What’s going on?”

I was quiet for a moment.  “She abandoned me,” I said in a small voice.

“Who?  Sabby?”

“No,” I said.  “Emiko.”

“Oh,” he said.  “But that doesn’t explain..”

“YES IT DOES,” I almost shouted. “She abandoned me!  I was an infant and she had me and she gave me up!  She didn’t want me!  No one wants me!”  Tears were springing to my eyes.  Dammit here I go crying again.  “I’m ANGRY dammit!  I hate her!  I hate her I hate her I hate her!  She didn’t want me and now I know who she is and I don’t want to see her but I do and I hate her!  I HATE HER!” I was punching his chest now and sobbing, I didn’t even know I was doing it.  “How could she leave me?,” I wailed.  “How could she put me through this???  Why do people abandon me!  And now Sabby!  Is she going to abandon me too???”

To his credit, he didn’t say anything.  He just wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tight to him and let me sob it out.  My crying had turned into just wails at this point.  Second time in a week, and for different reasons.

It took me a while to cry it out, and fifteen minutes later I was just hiccupping and sniffling and my nose was red and I was just a huge mess.  “How could she?,” I sniffled.  “How could she?”

I was running out of energy.  The sobs turned into sniffles and then…  and then I fell asleep.  How embarrassing!  Right on his shoulder!

I woke up under my covers a little while later, and…  and there was another chocolate milkshake next to my bed.  I choked back a sob.  Oh God after all that and they still bought me a chocolate milkshake.  I didn’t deserve them.

I picked up the milkshake and padded downstairs.  Sabby and Dave were sitting on the couch.  I sat down in the chair across from them.  I sniffled.

“I’m sorry, Lily,” Sabby finally said.  “I messed up, and I messed up badly.  I didn’t realize until Dave told me.  We’re not going to abandon you.”

“But you got so angry.”

“I did.  But like I said earlier.  That’s my problem.  I was wrong.  I should have realized that you’d think I was going to abandon you.  Especially after… after what you learned about your birth mother.”

“I messed up too,” I mumbled.

“Lily, one of us has a forty-mumble-mumble birthday coming up in a few days,” she smirked.  Oh no!  I’d forgotten!, “and one of us is sixteen years old and has memory problems.  I think of the two of us, you are the one with the better excuse.”

“How about we both messed up, but I’ll accept that I’m the sixteen year old and won’t be too hard on myself, and you can beat yourself up until you’re happy.”

Dave smirked, and Sabby frowned.  Then she chuckled.  Then she started laughing. “Deal,” she said, between chuckles, and I ran over and gave her a big hug.  She returned it, her chuckles turning to tears.  “I’m truly sorry, Lily,” she said.

“It’s okay,” I said quietly.  Then as she said “No, it’s not,” I mouthed the words.

That’s the first time I’ve ever seen her at a loss for words.  “Am I that predictable?”

“Sabby, in this house, no one can beat you at beating yourself up.”

Dave’s face was warring with itself.  He had the look of a middle aged man who knew he shouldn’t laugh if he wanted to sleep in the same bed as his wife tonight but couldn’t help it.  She just looked at him and swatted his arm, then she turned to me.

“Touche,” she said, with a smirk.  “Did Dave help?”

“A little,” I said honestly.  “I’m still angry.  Very, very angry.  But it was good to get some of it out.”

“It’s normal to be angry,” she said.  “As you can see, after all these years, I’m still angry.  But I know it’s not their fault.  It’s different in your case,” she said quickly as she saw the look in my eyes, “it was her fault.  But she wants to meet you.  At least let her explain herself.  That’s..” she sniffed, “that’s something my parents never got to do.”

She paused.  “It’s okay to tell her how you feel,” she said.  “If she can’t understand that, then she doesn’t deserve you.  But…” she thought about what to say next.  “Don’t burn your bridges.  Okay?  I’d give anything to be able to tell my parents how I feel.  And then.. and then to hug them.” She sniffed.  “Just give her a chance.  Okay?”

“I’ll give her a chance,” I said.  “But she’d better have a good explanation.”

Sabby nodded.  “I actually would like to hear it as well.  She’s definitely got some explaining to do.  From what the social worker said, maybe she can justify it.  But she’d better really sell it,” she said.  There was a little steel in her voice.  “She’s not going to hurt you again.”  She leaned forward and took my hands.  “Lily, even if I get angry, even if we yell and scream and fight with each other, even though I hate it when we fight, I’m never going to abandon you, okay?  Never, ever.  I’m your adopted mother and you’re stuck with me, for better or for worse.”

I choked back a sob.  “Promise?”

“I promise,” she said, and I wiped my eyes.

“I’m going to my room,” I said.  “I’m drained.  I’m guessing Beth doesn’t have a new friend?”

“Well, the girl liked her well enough.  Beth couldn’t run away fast enough.  I mean, really?  A cheerleader?  I can’t imagine Beth hanging around a cheerleader.”  She shuddered.  “Talk about oil and water…”  She sighed.  “You were right, Lily.”

“About what?”

“I wish you’d have put it a little nicer, and especially not in front of our company, but you were right.  I was trying to run a Beth friend dating service and it’s just a disaster.  Beth and I need to figure something else out.”

“No one can fault your intentions,” I said, “But… Beth’s a special girl.  I don’t think you’re going to find a friend for her like that.  She needs someone who’s her intellectual equal.  Like Liz, but younger.  Goodnight,” I yawned.

I grabbed my milkshake and went upstairs to see Beth for a little bit before I went to bed.  Tomorrow was a big day.  And I had no idea how it was going to turn out.

Before I went to bed I chatted with Jack.  He was worried about me.  He was right to be.  I told him things were a bit better, and he seemed relieved.  Nevermind the fact that I’m head over heels in love with him, he is such a nice boy.  And he’s an incredible kisser.  He wished me luck tomorrow.  I thanked him.  I’m gonna need every bit of luck there is.

Who knows.  But I could do lots worse than to marry him someday.

And I have to think of what to get Sabby for her birthday!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 4 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

OH GOD what a day.  What a wonderful, terrible, awful, amazing day.

I got through work today.  Somehow.  The owner asked me what was going on, and I told him I was meeting my long-lost birth mother that afternoon.  He sighed, and said “nothing boring ever happens to you, does it, Lily?”

I shook my head.  Then I told him that my SSN, birthdate, and even given name were probably wrong.  He sighed, and complained (only partly good naturedly) about how much work that was going to cause him.  But, he said I was a good worker, so we’d figure it out.  He’s a good guy.  I can’t pretend I was very cheerful.  I was more businesslike than usual.  A couple of karens tried their stuff and I just shut them right down.  I told them that my job was to sell them horribly unhealthy food and fuel and I frankly didn’t care what they thought their supposed relationship with the owner gave them, they could pay me what they owed or they could walk out without the food, I didn’t really care either way.

The owner smirked, but told me to tone it down a little.  He doesn’t like them but they’re still customers.  I grimaced, said okay, and all was good.

So next time, I just plastered on a fake cheerful voice, and shortened it to just repeating “that will be $xxx, please” over and over again until they demanded a manager.  That was apparently good enough.  His attitude is, apparently, that I’m not paid enough to argue with them, so as long as I don’t actually argue with them while sticking to my guns and staying barely professional, I can say whatever I want.  Good enough.  It’s the arguing and snark that he gets a little tetchy about.  Snark is fun, but I don’t blame him.  It’s his business, not mine.

But, he also knows we’re still getting to know each other, so he’s not worried about it.  I’ll figure out his limits and he’ll figure out mine and everything will be fine.  He’s a nice man.  I think my limits are actual verbal abuse.  Thankfully most karens are just annoying and try to wheedle their way into discounts or free stuff, and save the abuse for the owner.

The real interesting stuff happened after I got home.  I was so nervous and, frankly, angry that I was shaking.  I could barely eat.  Sabby told me to go upstairs and put on some nice clothing.  I started to protest but she just fixed me with one of her glares.  “It’s not why you think,” she said.  “This is one of those situations where you want to send a bit of a message.  If you dress nicely, you’ll send the message that you’re doing just fine.  Without her.”

I had to agree, both because she was right and because she was Sabby and glaring at me, so I went upstairs and put on my nicest dress and thigh socks and shiny mid-heel shoes.  I even did some makeup and put my hair up with a bow.  When I clomped downstairs, Sabby nodded in approval.  “That’ll do.  Try to stay calm.  It’ll be fine.”

A few minutes later, there was a hesitant knock on the door.  My stomach was so full of butterflies, but I sat down as primly as I could manage, knees together, hands in my lap, feet to the side, just the picture of a proper young lady.

Yeah, me, proper young lady.  Pfft.

And there she was.

She was a little shorter than me, very definitely Japanese, and looked pretty youthful.  She looked as nervous as I felt.  I stood up, and she gave me a little bow.  I returned it awkwardly. 

“Hello,” she said, rather awkwardly.  “Yuriko?”

“It’s Lily,” I said, as politely as I could muster.

Her face lit up.  “You kept the name!”

I’m sure I looked about as confused as I felt.  “Huh?”, I said eruditely.

“The name!  Yuriko means Lily!  You…  you didn’t know?,” she said, a little more hesitantly.

My mouth dropped open.  “I… I had no idea,” I said.  “Quite honestly, I didn’t even know my given name until this week.”

“Oh,” she said, her face dropping.

Sabby and I sat down on the couch and she sat down on the chair.

“Mrs. Johnson,” I said.

“Emiko,” she interrupted.  “Please call me Emiko.”

I sighed.  I really didn’t want to, she hadn’t earned that yet, but that was not the kind of fight I wanted to engage.  “Emiko.  I don’t know where to start so I’m just going to come right out and ask.  Why did you abandon me?”

She was fidgeting with her hands in her lap  She looked very insecure.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I don’t know what I was expecting.  Maybe a woman who was proud of what she’d done?  Maybe a woman who didn’t know the impact of what she’d done?  But she didn’t have either of those airs.  She looked like a woman who knew exactly what she’d done – and hated herself for it.

And she started to speak.  She spoke in a Japanese accent, but it was clear she had been in the US for quite a while. 

“I was student in college at the time.  I was about to graduate.  At one of the end of year parties, I met the boy named Robert, and he swept me off my feet.  A little too well, actually,” she said sadly.  “He, well, he got what he wanted and I never saw him again.  I found out… I found out a few weeks later that I was pregnant.”  (I left in her slight grammar errors as much I can remember, I think it makes this more authentic.)

She looked down, like she didn’t know what to do with her hands, like she really didn’t want to tell this story.

“I thought I could start graduate studies, have my baby, and then I’d figure out what to do.  And that worked out.  Until Katrina came along.  I was forced to flee with nothing but a few personal belongings and the clothes on my back.  I went to Houston to ride it out.  And…  and you came along.”

There was a tear in her eye.  “I was already having very hard time, starting new classes, and I knew that there was no way I could take care of you, I could barely feed myself!   I…  I just couldn’t keep you.”  Her lower lip was trembling.  “I loved you,” she said.  “I wanted to keep you, so much.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t have the means, I just…  I wasn’t able.”

Sabby gave me a look, as if to say “okay, she’s selling it.”  I gave her a look back, as if to say “dammit!”

“I didn’t know what happened to you after I gave you up, and there wasn’t the day, not the night, that went by that I didn’t wonder how you were doing, if you were okay, how you were turning out.  And then..  and then I got a phone call, and here you are.”

I sighed.  “When I found out….  that you’d abandoned me, it hurt me.  A lot.”

A sob escaped her.  “Oh, Yuriko… Lily..   I’m so sorry.  I didn’t want that for you.”

“But it’s what you gave me,” I said, but with far less hurt in my voice than I thought there’d be.  I’m sure there was some in there, though.  I was certainly feeling it.

“It is,” she said.  “How can I say it wasn’t?  But if I could have thought of anything else, any other answer…  I would have.  I promise you that with everything I have.  I would have.  Yuri – Lily, I can’t…  I can’t… I can’t make up for…”  She put her head in her hands and started to sob. “How much I regret… if there had been any other way…  I’m so sorry, Lily.  So sorry.”

Now the emotions were warring inside me.  I still hated her for what she’d done, but I believed her.  She didn’t want to.  She didn’t feel like she had any choice.  What would I have done in her situation?  What could I have done?

Finally I just settled for the truth.  “I believe you,” I said, quietly.

Sabby offered her a tissue and she blew her nose delicately.

“I don’t like it,” I said.  “A part of me wonders if you tried hard enough.  If you could have found an answer.  But I believe you.  You did what you felt you had to.”

“I’d dreamed of this day,” she said, softly, sniffling.  “For sixteen years, every day, I dreamed of this day.  I dreamt that I would finally meet the little girl I had to let go.  And I didn’t know what I’d find.  Would you hate me?  Would you not even want to talk to me?  And the worst part is… the worst part is I couldn’t blame you.  If you didn’t.  I couldn’t blame you at all.”  Her voice hitched.  “I don’t know if you could hate me more than I hate myself…”

I’m sure the conflict was written all over my face.  It was quiet for a moment.  Finally I stood up and walked over to Emiko.  I offered my hand.  She took it and I pulled her up.  And then..  and then I hugged her.

“I forgive you,” I said quietly.

She dissolved into tears for a few moments.  But after she pulled herself together, I let her go.

“Ariga – thank you,” she said simply.

“dou itashi mashite”, I responded.

Her eyes lit up.  “You speak nihongo?”, she said, her face full of surprise.

Chotto“, I said.  “I’ve been studying for a few months.  It seemed like an interesting thing to do.”

Ureshii“, she said.  “I’m so happy.”

And we sat down.  I told her about the last few months – about how I was found on the side of the road, how I had trouble adapting to my family, how they adopted me, about Lily Day, about how I met Jack.

She told me she has a couple of younger children, around David’s age, two girls.  After she finished her graduate degree, she found someone, fell in love, married him, and settled in Houston.  She offered to help me with Japanese, and I thought that seemed like a good idea, so I accepted.

Eventually, after promising to come back soon with her family, she left.

Sabby sat down next to me.  “Are you alright?,” she asked.

I looked at her with wet eyes.  “No.  But I will be.”  I smiled.  “I will be.”

I don’t think I want to meet my birth father.  Not now, maybe not ever.  It might be good to know his medical history, but he doesn’t know about me, I was just a good time, and, well, he either has his own life now with his own family, or he doesn’t.  My birth mother is one thing, but he…  he doesn’t deserve me.

He doesn’t deserve me.

I can forgive Emiko.  I’m not quite as sure about him.  About the only good thing to say about him is, he didn’t know.

I don’t love Emiko.  I may never love Emiko.  I forgive her, but she abandoned me once, I can’t trust her not to do it again, even though I know it was a sad set of circumstances.  But maybe, at least, I could grow to like her.  And, well, what more could a girl want?

Sabby says tomorrow, after work, we’re going to set up the Christmas tree.  This will be my first Christmas as an actual Smith, and I can’t wait!!!  Maybe this time it will be relaxing and uneventful??

And there is one question that I think might be important.  Why did I choose the name Lily?

Love you all!!!  ❤️

This diary entry is part 5 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m gonna cry.  I’m seriously gonna cry.  But this time not out of sadness.  I’m sooo happy.

So today I did my run and went to work, and the owner asked me how it went.  I told him that I met her, and she was really regretful, and I forgave her.  He patted me on the back and said “good girl”.  Then he paused.  “In India, family is very important.  We have big families.  Mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents…  sometimes all under one roof.  Many people are poor and don’t have much.  But they are rich.  You are rich.  You have your family, and now your birth mother and your half sisters, and your boyfriend -” I started to protest but he smirked.  “You just don’t know it yet.  You have a big family, like in India.  A big family is a blessing.  Don’t forget.  You lost much, yes, yes, very much, but you gained much too.”  He smiled.  “Business is good.  Better than last year.  My wife and I, we want to do something nice for our employees.”  He rummaged around his desk and handed me an envelope.  “Don’t open it until you get home.  Very important.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

I protested.  “Aren’t you a Hindu?”

“Yes,” he said, smiling.  “But you’re not.  And isn’t that respect?”

I had no response to that.  I just sniffed and impulsively hugged him.  He patted my back.  “Back to work, kiddo.  You have, how do you say it, doot dooting to do.”

I frowned.  “I didn’t get you anything.”

“You’re sixteen, Lily.  You don’t have much to give.  I own a convenience store.  I have a lot to give.  That hug was gift enough.  Now shoo.”

I did.  Oh my God.  How nice is he.  I won the job lottery.

After I got home, I opened the envelope.  It was a bonus.  A huge bonus.  Even Dave and Sabby were taken aback by how much it was, at least in comparison to my hourly wage.  I could afford to get driving lessons now and start paying my insurance!!!  He is soo nice!  I have to make him and his wife a thank you card!!!

When I got home, there was a tree on top of the car.  “Oh there you are,” Dave said.  “help us get this inside.”  Liz was there too, I guess her family doesn’t really make a big deal out of Christmas and Sabby thought she’d enjoy it.

So we got the tree inside and put it in its stand.  Sabby went to the attic and got out all the ornaments and tinsel, and we started decorating the tree.  When we were done, it was all lit up and soooo pretty!  Everyone had their own special ornament that they put up.  Sabby got a box and handed it to me.  I opened it, and there was an ornament!  My very own ornament!  With my name on it!  Lily!  She must have had it done recently, because it also said “Yuriko”.

OMG!!!  I put the ornament on the tree and everyone hugged me!  Even David!

I’m a Smith!  I’m actually a real Smith!!!

And Liz got an ornament too!  She was soooo happy!  Maybe she’s not a Smith, but she’s an honorary Smith!  Just like I’m an honorary Tang!

After that, Dave got a ladder and put up the Christmas lights.  He can be a bit clumsy so we all stood outside ready to catch him, but everything went fine.  After the sun went down, we turned the lights on, and it was soo pretty!  Christmas is so pretty!  With all the lights and songs and… and family!

Oh oh oh and Jack said he had a present for me too, but I would get it around Christmastime!  I wonder what it is!  He wouldn’t say.  He wouldn’t even give me a hint!  He did promise it would be big and I would really love it!  What could it be???

The owner was right!  I have such a big family now!  I have Dave, and Sabby, and Beth, and David, and Cat, and Liz, and her parents, and Emiko, and my new half sisters, and Jack, and Grace, and even the owner, and OMG how lucky am I?  I’m gonna cry!  I’m seriously gonna cry!!!

And I have you all too!!!  Allison and everyone else who reads this and follows my life and loves me!!!  Even with the roller coaster of the last couple of weeks, how lucky I am!!!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 6 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m kind of a weird combination of happy and sad today.

Yesterday was sooo good.  There wasn’t one thing that I could point to as wonderful, but it was a bunch of little wonderful things that all came together to make it a great day!  I love my family!  All of them!  Even the ones that don’t think I’m their family!  They’re all the best!

But then I heard on the news about a boy who did some very bad things up in Michigan.  I don’t pay a lot of attention to the news because it makes me sad, but he was about my age.  What makes a boy do things like that?  I heard that his parents failed him, the school failed him, everyone failed him.  Some people are like that.  Some parents don’t care and are selfish, some school teachers and principals don’t care either, and a boy slips through the cracks, and, well, people die.

I said yesterday that I’m lucky, and I’m soooo lucky.  I have so many people that are on my side.  Even when Sabby and I are fighting, Dave will step in and try to make it all better.  And when I have things inside me that I can’t get out, someone steps in and hugs me or makes me talk about it and i can get it out.  But what about those people, like that boy, who don’t have that?  Who hugs them and tells them it will be better?   Who gives them a shoulder to cry it out on?  No one, I guess.  And that breaks my heart.

Sabby tells me that the world is broken, and I believe her.  But we can’t fix the world.  You or I or anyone else can’t fix the world, or solve all of the problems, and people who think they can just hurt themselves because they can’t.  But we can make our little parts of the world better.  We can hug each other and let each other cry and tell each other that we love them, and every time we do that, we take the brokenness and heal just a little bit of it.  What would have happened in Michigan if that boy had had people like that in his life when he needed them?

So we sat in front of the tree, tonight, after school.  We sat in front of the tree and looked at how pretty it was, and we played games, and popped popcorn, and ate chocolate, and if everyone did that, then maybe the world would be a little better place, dontcha think?

I’m a little peeved at Jack.  Silly boy won’t give me a hint as to my present!  I have to think of what to give him, too.  What do you get a boy who stole your heart and won’t give it back?  Maybe I’ll make him a heart cozy so he’ll have a place to keep it OMG that was the sappiest thing I’ve ever said in my life!

He promises, though, that I will absolutely love it.  And I trust him.  So let’s see what the silly billy did!

Oh.  Emiko wants to come over Friday night, and bring her family too.  I hope that turns out well!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 7 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

Well, I knew the peace wasn’t going to last.  Sabby had an idea.  An awful idea.  Sabby had a wonderful, awful idea.

So the church the family goes to (I haven’t gone lately because of work) is big on doing good things over the holiday season.  Which is good, I guess – why they can’t do it every other time is beyond me, but who am I to meddle in the affairs of religious people?  This Sunday they’re having an event where they feed the poor and the homeless.

It’s a nice idea.  I can’t deny that the church tries.  After all, if it weren’t for them, I’d have never found Dave and Sabby.  Or they’d have never found me.

Anyway, Sabby thought it’d be a good idea to volunteer the family (except me, but only because I have to work) to help out this Sunday.

She broke the news at dinnertime.

Dave thought it was a good idea.  David seemed ambivalent.

Beth blew up.

I don’t know what it is about Beth.  She’s a good girl and I love her, but girl’s seriously got some temper issues.  Apparently she had plans this Sunday, I have no idea what but she wanted to do something else, and now that’s ruined.  She told Sabby exactly what she thought of her church, her idea, the homeless, the poor, and said she wished Sabby was never born.

Beth really needs to get control of her mouth.

I’ve seen Sabby angry before.  Even at me.  She kind of gets calm, goes up to take a bath, then proceeds to tell you in no uncertain terms exactly what she thinks of what you said, in tones that cut.

Not this time.  Sabby grabbed Beth by her ear, dragged her up to her room, tossed her inside, told her that if she comes out for any reason but to use the bathroom there will be hell to pay, and slammed the door.  Then she went right to her room and started drawing a bath.

Can’t honestly say I blame Sabby.  Beth was out of line.

So, here we go again.  The next few days should be fun.  Loads and loads of fun.  I’m not getting in the middle of that, though.  Guess Beth’s hair will be unbrushed tonight.

Anyway, families can’t be all sunshine and roses, I guess.

I miss Jack.  When he touched me it was soooo soothing.  I miss having him touch me.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 8 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi! It’s me!  Lily!

So today was… well… interesting.

Sabby did not talk to Beth last night.  At all.  She never came back out of her room.  It was very tense.  I just kept a low profile, I was just glad it wasn’t me for once.  Beth didn’t come out either, except to use the bathroom.  She didn’t look sorry.  At all.

So the next day, we ate breakfast, and Sabby told us in clipped tones to get dressed and get in the car.  Beth started to protest, but Sabby told her that she could either get dressed and get in the car, or Sabby could dress her, hogtie her, drag her into the car, and she was still going to go where Sabby wanted, it was her choice.  It says a lot that I wasn’t actually sure how serious Sabby was.  So we all got dressed and piled into the car.  On the way Sabby told us that school was cancelled for today, and maybe for the rest of the week as well, and we were going to have a “field trip” instead.

We pulled up next to a homeless shelter, and Sabby told us all to get out, and we walked in.  She found someone in charge, and said “these three are going to volunteer today.  The oldest one and the youngest one are here for a school volunteering activity, feel free to put them to work.  The middle one, well, she told me last night exactly what she thinks of what you do and who you provide services to, I want you to teach her a lesson.”  The lady nodded.

“We can always use the extra help,” she said, “And I know just the job for her.”

I didn’t really mind, honestly.  It got me out of the house.  Beth looked furious, but she knew better than to speak up.  The lady in charge, a strict, no nonsense older woman with a kindly face, gave us our assignments.

David was put to work cleaning off the tables and chairs with hand sanitizer in preparation for lunch.  I was back in the kitchen, making sure the cooks had what they needed and cleaning any dishes they dirtied.  Beth was put to work cleaning the breakfast dishes and taking the garbage out.  She was seething, but what could she do?

Come lunchtime, they put us all to work serving the food.  It wasn’t the greatest food, in fact, it was pretty bland, but it was hot and the people seemed to appreciate it.  There were all sorts of different people – some were obviously not really up to any good, some doing stuff I didn’t want to think about, but there were families, too.  One that popped out at me was a family that looked kind of like ours – a mother and father and a girl about Beth’s age.  She was a little shorter than Beth, with jet black hair, a pretty but plain face, and a thin body.  Dunno why she wasn’t in school, but there she was.  They were wearing ratty clothes and looked like they’d seen better days.

Beth was having some attitude, honestly, when it came to serving the food.  She was not pleasant.  She’d take the plate and plop the food onto it with a bit of attitude and move on to the next one.  That girl – though – she wasn’t having it.

“Lose the attitude, rich girl,” she said, not menacingly, but matter of fact.

Beth just glared at her, and plopped the food onto her plate.  “I don’t want to be here,” she said.  “My mom made me.”

The girl just looked at the food, looked at Beth, and smushed the food into Beth’s face.  Then she went to sit with her parents, a satisfied look on her face.  She crossed her arms and silently took the berating her parents were giving her.  Her face just said, “worth it!”.  Sabby had seen the whole thing, she was serving too, but apparently she had decided that Beth had it coming and didn’t say a word.  Beth looked murderous as she was wiping the food off her face.

Finally, after an animated conversation, her parents grabbed her by the arm and dragged her over to Beth.  “Say you’re sorry,” the mother said.

“I’m not,” she said defiantly.  “Now this rich girl’s face matches her attitude.”

“We’ve taught you better than that, no matter how unpleasant -“

“Taught me better than that?  This girl, with her nice clothes and fancy hairstyle and makeup and attitude, and we live… here.  Here,” she said, with a look of disgust on her face.  “I don’t have to take someone like this giving me attitude.”

“If you assault the people serving food they’ll kick us out, then where will we go?  Now apologize.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, completely insincerely.  There was a thoughtful look on Sabby’s face.  Beth looked like she wanted to say something, but Sabby’s eyes were boring into her.  “It’s okay,” she said, just as insincerely, and plopped some food onto the plate of the next person in line.

After lunch, and washing the dishes, we came home.  Sabby told us all that we were going to be doing the same thing for the rest of the week.  Beth sulked immediately off to her room.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”, I asked, a bit on eggshells.

She deflated.  “No, I’m not.  But Beth was so far out of line…  I’m not done, either.  Do you mind ordering some pizza?  I have to run an errand.”

“What kind?”

“Oh, just get different kinds, enough for, oh…  eight people.  And get some wings and soft drinks too.”

“Eight people? …  Sabby?”

She smiled, an evil, horrible smile.  “We were looking for a friend for Beth, right?  Well, seems to me we just hit the jackpot.”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

“I talked to her parents,” she said softly.  “They seem like nice people.  Just fell on some hard times.  Their daughter…  isn’t doing very well, either.  I think they need each other.”

“If they don’t kill each other first.”

“There’s that” she said softly.  “Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing.  But I’m Beth’s mother.  I can’t let her keep going this way, either.  I’m going to go pick them up, and they’re going to have dinner with us, and we’re going to see what happens.”

I shrugged.  “I hope you’re right.”

“Me too,” she said, quietly.  Then she left.  I got on the computer and ordered enough pizzas for a small army.

About the time the pizza arrived, Sabby did as well, family in tow.  They all came in, the mother and father seemed somewhat at home, but the girl looked absolutely sullen.  Sabby yelled for Beth and David to come down for dinner.

Beth came down the stairs, and stopped.

“You!,” they said in unison.

“How could you, mom?”, they both said, in unison.

Sabby fixed Beth with a hard gaze.  “Sit down.  You will treat our guests with respect.”

And the woman said to the girl, “And we are guests in their house.  Leave the attitude at the door, Crystal.”

I guess her name was Crystal.

She just sat there sullenly, glaring at Beth, and picked up a piece of pizza.  She mumbled thanks and tucked in.  I guess no good wasting pizza.

They did enjoy the pizzas, I guess I ordered well.  While they were eating, we learned a bit about them.  They were named Bob and Desiree Davis.  They had lost everything.  The father was actually a pretty highly qualified engineer, but his company had let him go due to the virus, and he hadn’t been able to find a job.  The mother was a stay at home mom, and she tried to keep the family afloat, but couldn’t find a good enough job, and they lost everything.  He was trying to find a job, but having no luck, because he didn’t have an address.  It was just a terrible situation all around.  Crystal didn’t have any other family to stay with, so she ended up staying with them at the shelter.  She had gone to school, but with the virus, she had to do distance learning, and didn’t have access to the lessons, so they couldn’t make it work.

“What kind of engineer are you?”, Dave asked.


“I’m a structural engineer.  We always have need of new engineers.  Do you have a resume?”


“No promises,” he said.  “I have a few openings on my team, and if you’re qualified, I see no reason we couldn’t at least get you an interview.  Of course, how that goes is all up to you.”

“I’m qualified, I have all the relevant degrees and licenses.  But I don’t have an address…”

“Bob, if I can get you an interview, and if you were to be offered a job, would you take it?”

Bob’s lips were quivering.  “That’s all I ever wanted, to be able to take care of my family,” he said.  “It’s been so hard.  I don’t know why it’s been so hard to find a job lately, but no one wants me.”

“Wait here.”  He stood up and went to make some calls.

Desiree and Sabby made some small talk.  Beth and Crystal were still looking at each other with some suspicion, but at least the outright hostility was gone.

“Does your dad mean it?  Can he get mine a job?”

Beth shrugged.  “Maybe.  He’s a pretty nice guy, and he’s good at his job.  If your father’s any good, I’m sure he can work something out.”

“He’s very good!,” Crystal said defensively.

Beth shrugged.  “Not my call.”

“I guess not.”  She was quiet  “I’m sorry for smushing that food in your face.”

“I’m sorry for being a snot.  I was just mad at my mom for ruining my plans.”

“What was so important that you got that mad at her?”

“Nothing important,” Beth said embarrassedly.

“We’re not friends.”

“Of course not.”

“You’re still a rich girl with an attitude.”

“And you’re still rude.”

They were quiet.

“Can we keep in touch?”

A touch of a smile graced Beth’s mouth.  “I’d like that.”

Dave returned.  “I just called my pastor.  He said you can stay with him and his family until you get back on your feet.  I expect to have your resume as soon as you settle in, and I’ll speed up the process as much as I can.  The pastor will help you with computer access, a place to work, that kind of thing.  We’ll need to find you transportation too but I’m sure we can figure something out.”

“Why?”, Bob said.  “You don’t know me.  Why would you help me like this?”

Dave shrugged.  “I need a good engineer, and you need a job and to get back on your feet.  Why wouldn’t I help you?”

“I won’t let you down.”

Dave smirked.  “See that you don’t.  After all, I’d be your new boss.  Sabby, do you mind taking them back to get their stuff and then over to the pastor’s?”

“Not at all.  Everyone eat their fill?”

The nodded, and Sabby left along with them.

I smiled to myself.  It looks like Beth may have finally found the friend we were looking for.

Sabby does have her moments of brilliance.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 9 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

Well, things got even more chaotic.  I didn’t think it was possible.  It’s like I live a movie sometimes!  I wake up in the morning and everything’s upended!!!

So last night, actually as I was writing the post, Dave got a phone call.  He called us down a few minutes later (I’d already finished it) and told me he just spoke to Sabby, and they’d talked to the pastor and Crystal’s parents, and agreed to take Crystal in for a little while while her parents got back on their feet.  The reason was that we’re already being home-schooled and everyone thought it was important that Crystal got at least some education, so it just seemed to make sense.

Beth didn’t seem all that happy but I didn’t really care.  The more the merrier, I guess.

Dave did sit us down, though, and told us in no uncertain terms (well, Beth specifically, but the message applied to us too) that she’d been through a traumatic situation and that we were to make her feel as much at home as we could.  For the time being, she was to be treated as if she were another sister.  Dave said that because I came from a similar situation and knew how it felt, that I was to be “in charge”.  If I thought something was a good idea, they’d probably do it, and if I thought it was out of line, they’d put a stop to it.  That’s a lot of responsibility, but I guess I understood.  None of them understood like I did, even if I didn’t fully understand.  I nodded solemnly.

Sabby had apparently made a trip with Crystal to the superstore, and picked up some necessities, like basic clothing, bedding, etc.  She was going to camp out on the couch for a little while.  I gave my blessing – the couch is major comfy and heck, I wouldn’t mind sleeping there sometimes.

They arrived back with a lot of bags and one scared-looking Crystal.

Sabby showed Crystal where the bathroom was and told her to take a shower and put on some of her new nightclothes, and we’d make up the couch, and that school would start in the morning.  We didn’t know exactly how to fit her in, but everything we were doing was just winging it anyway, so we’d figure it out.  She did as instructed.  I heard some faint sobs coming from the bathroom, and a few minutes later, she came out clean but puffy eyed.

I sat her down on the couch/bed and sat next to her.

“I understand,” I said simply.

“No you don’t!  How could you!  Look at you and this family, and me…  I’m not worth all this!”  She folded her arms defiantly, but the sadness in her eyes betrayed her.

“I do!,” I said.  “I really do!  I’m adopted!  They found me on the road!  I didn’t even have memories!  All I had were the clothes on my back!  They took me in, and I cried for a long time!  It took a long time before I felt like I fit in here!”  I took a deep breath. “If anyone understands, I do.  And in some ways you’ve got it better.  Your father will get a job, and will make some money, and get a house, and you’ll move back with them and everything will be good again!  I only met my birth mother last week, and I’d never even seen her before!”  My eyes stung a bit.  “They still made me their family!”

I was quiet for a moment while I composed myself, but so was she.  “They’re good people.  They’ll treat you well.  But you’d better treat them well too.  No food smushing or attitude or yelling.”

She deflated.  All the fight went out of her.  “I’ll try.”

“It’ll be hard,” I said softly.  “It’s always hard.  But things will get better now.  I promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” she said softly.  Where’d I heard that bef – oh.

“Well, I promise that all of us will do our best to keep that promise.” I patted her knee.  “Get some sleep.  Tomorrow’s a new day.”

I stood up and started to go back to my room.  I heard a choked sob, like she was trying to hide it.  I turned right around and came back.  I just sat down and wrapped my arms around her, and let her cry it out.  She fought it a bit, but eventually she couldn’t anymore, and just cried and cried.  I did understand.  And Sabby did that for me, on my first night too.  The least I could do was return the favor.

You don’t have to know someone to love them.

The next morning I went on my run.  After I came back and took a quick shower, we all sat down for breakfast.  Sabby made the good stuff – blueberry pancakes.  Crystal’s eyes just kind of looked dead, but she did eat, and Beth was fairly well behaved.  Thankfully.  Because of the change in circumstances, Sabby cancelled the volunteering for the rest of the week – we’d have to take Crystal with us and I vetoed that.  No way was I going to allow her to be sent back to the shelter, even as a volunteer.  Not until she was ready.  So she was put in a “class” with Beth, and they did their lessons together.  Towards the end of the day, well, they weren’t thick as thieves, but they were chatting and cooperating with each other.  Bonus.

At dinnertime (Sabby had made something extra delicious – reheated pizza!), Dave told us all that Bob had sent his resume, and it was very impressive, so unless he failed a background check or something catastrophic like that, he pretty much had the job if he wanted it.  Crystal dutifully thanked Dave, but she just seemed…  sad.  I think she had been in survival mode for so long, now she didn’t have to, and she didn’t know how to deal with that.  I kind of understood, I guess.  I probably would have felt the same, if I’d remembered anything.

In more mundane news, tomorrow is Sabby’s birthday, and I haven’t gotten her anything!  It’s not because I forgot, but it’s because I can’t think of anything that’s worthy of her!  I could get her a hugely expensive present, and it’s just… just… a thing.  No thing could ever be enough.  I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

I told Jack about the goings-on yesterday and today.  He surprised me.  He said he likes Beth.

I said, huh? She’s been nothing but a jerk!  So bad of a jerk that Sabby threatened to hogtie her and drag her down to a homeless shelter, and then she got food smushed in her face!

That’s true, he said.  But she says what’s on her mind.  She doesn’t let anyone tell her how to feel, and she will fight for that.

I thought.  I guess he’s got a point.  Maybe she could find a better way to express it, but pretty much every time she fights with Sabby, it’s because she’s spoken her mind, and then she stands behind what she said or did, and never backs down.  Sabby can tell her she was out of line, and even fight with her, but even though Beth seems to realize that she could have expressed it better, she never, ever apologizes for saying what’s on her mind.  I guess…  I guess that’s something to be admired.  Even if Sabby doesn’t think so.  Even if I don’t think so.  I guess that’s kind of the point, though.  Right?

So Beth basically told Sabby to get lost, and out of it we got a new temporary sister.  How the heck does that happen?

Nothing ordinary ever happens to you, does it, Lily?  I could almost hear the smirk in his voice.  I guess not.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Emiko comes over tomorrow evening with her family too.  We’ll invite Liz and her parents, as well as bob and Desiree, this weekend.  I’m a little nervous, but we’ll see what happens!

Going to go play games with everyone!  Even Crystal!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 10 of 30 in Lily's diary dated 06 - December 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

So, as you can see from the title, today was Sabby’s birthday.  I had such a hard time figuring out what to get her, but I figured it out.  I’ll tell you how it went later in the post.  Also, I hear that Allison’s family’s having a rough time with the virus.  Poor Allison. We need to invite her over at some point – after all that’s run its course.  The virus sucks.

So it was a normal Friday.  Everyone was excited that it was the end of the week.  Crystal seems to be adapting, little by little.  She and Beth are still working on their lessons together, and there seems to be a grudging respect.  Turns out Crystal is pretty smart!  Whether Beth smart or not, I don’t know, but she can hold her own!  Sabby gave them some pretty hard math work and they were competing to see who could solve it first!

After school, I went and put on some nice clothes (not quite as nice when I first met Emiko, but nice enough) and Sabby made a very nice dinner.  I didn’t know she could make Japanese food, but she made ramen!  With the soft boiled eggs and seared fish and everything!  (we still have some fish left over from Dave and David’s fishing trip.)  She’s a great cook.  Anyway, Emiko showed up as dinner was being finished, with her husband and two daughters.

Her husband was a tall, older man with full hair and a kindly face, maybe a little younger than Dave, his name was Bill.  His daughters were 10 and 9, named Mika and Aika.  They looked so much like me!  I asked Emiko what their names meant.  She said “Beautiful flower” and “Lovely flower”.  Seems she really liked flowers.

Nothing wrong with that!  I think David was really taken with them.  I hadn’t seen him look like that since Allison.  I nudged him and said “Those are my half-sisters”.  He just nudged me back and said “They’re not mine.”  What could I say to that?

So we sat down to eat – Emiko seemed really surprised at the quality of the ramen, and even Crystal was slurping it down greedily.  Emiko asked about Crystal, and we just said she was a family friend who was staying with us for a while.

Crystal wasn’t having any of that, though.  “I’m homeless.  I’m staying here for a while so my parents can get back on their feet.”

Sabby cast one of her trademark glares at Crystal.  “You’re not homeless, Crystal.”

She frowned.  “This isn’t my home.  Thank you for taking me in, but this isn’t my home.”

Sabby frowned, but let it drop.  Crystal went back to inhaling her ramen.

Bill broke the silence.  “Well, you can just imagine how surprised we were when we found out my wife here had a daughter sixteen years ago.”

“She didn’t tell you?”, I asked, surprised.  Emiko looked really embarrassed but didn’t say anything.

“Not a word.  When she told me a week ago that she was going to meet you, I was floored.  I had no idea!”

“Well,” I said diplomatically.  “I imagine it wasn’t the easiest topic to bring up.”

Emiko nodded, still looking embarrassed.  “It was never the right time.”

“Well, you know now,” Sabby said.  “Mika, Aika, why don’t you tell your half-sister a little about yourselves?”  Kind of a hamhanded way to change the subject, but it worked nonetheless.  I felt like there was a little bit of tension between Bill and Emiko regarding the topic.  Regarding me.

Mika and Aika took turns telling us about themselves, their favorite subject at school, etc.  David was enraptured.  Great.  After they were done,  I told them about myself too, how I knew martial arts and the piano but didn’t know why.  They seemed like decent kids.  Bill even seemed decent, just a little put out at not being told about me.  Can’t say I blame him, but the past is the past.

After dinner, Dave went and got a cake, and brought it out with one candle.  “Tonight is Sabby’s birthday,” he announced.  “Let’s all sing the song?”

So we sang the song.  Gifts would be given later.  But everyone got a piece of cake, which Mika and Aika were very enthusiastic about.  The cake was chocolate.  Girls after my own heart.

After dinner we retired to the living room and just chatted about stuff.  Nothing earth-shattering.  Emiko did tell me I have grandparents in Japan, though, and invited me to come along the next time she went back home.  She thought it was important that I knew where I came from, even if a little.  Like I was going to say no!  But that would be sometime next year.  Guess now I need to work more at learning Japanese.

Eventually, they all left.  My half sisters seemed like decent kids.  But I didn’t quite know what to make of Bill.  He seemed nice enough, but he didn’t seem all that happy to meet me.  I guess I understood.  I’m her child.  Not his.

Finally it was time for presents to Sabby.  Everyone handed her a nicely wrapped box except for me.  She opened them happily.  Dave got her a glass flower (which she loved).  Beth got her a nice necklace, which she immediately put on, and David had obviously had help, because he got her a bubble bath.  After all the gifts had been given, I cleared my throat.

“Sabby,” I said, “I didn’t buy you anything.  But in Japan, it seems that it’s a tradition on special days like this to write a letter and then read it out.  I wrote you a letter.”  I went and got the letter.  “I know it doesn’t sound like much, but give it a chance.”

I opened the letter and cleared my throat.

“Sabby, I don’t know what your age is now, because you won’t tell me.  I know that you’re one year older now than you were a year ago.  And a little over one year older from how old you were when I was found on the side of the road.”  I sniffed. “I still remember that day like it was yesterday.  How you came and got me from the hospital, and took me to the store to get some necessities, much like you did Crystal yesterday.”  I looked at Crystal meaningfully, then went back to my letter.  “I remember coming back to your house, and you showing me the guest room, which you turned into my room that very night, and me being soo confused and soo scared and not knowing who I was or even what my name is.  I remember two things about that night:  you didn’t name me, and you didn’t leave me.”

Sabby sniffled.

“I chose the name Lily that night, and you called me that from that day forward.  And I cried.  I’ve cried harder, but I’ve never cried as long.  And you were always there.  You held me, and talked to me, and you let me cry, and you… ” my voice broke, “you helped me through what was certainly one of the worst times of my life.  That I can remember anyway.

“And then you took me shopping. I remember that day too.  I had been crying for so long and so hard my stomach hurt and I didn’t have any tears left, and you took me shopping.  It’s not about the things you bought me, but that’s when you made me a part of your family.  It took me a long time to accept that, but that was the first time we really spent together, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

I paused, and wiped my eyes.  “Sometimes we fight and have harsh words, but I’ll never forget what you did for me, and what you still do for me, and… and you’ll always be my mother.”  I put the letter down, ran over, and hugged her.

She hugged me back, her body shaking.  “You were right about the Japanese letters,” she said, wiping her eyes.  “Thank you, Lily.  I loved everyone’s presents, but…. thank you.”

Crystal just looked at me, a tear running down her face.  “You… you do understand.”, she said, quietly.

I nodded.  “I do,” I said, just as quietly.

She jumped up and ran over to me, and glomped me.  “You understand,” she sobbed, “You understand.”

I just patted her back.  “I do,” I said softly.

“Lily,” Sabby said, with much emotion in her voice.  “I will never regret adopting you.”

I just smiled wanly and sat back down, after Crystal disentangled herself and did the same.

Finally, Sabby went to take a bath.  Not an angry bath this time, but a happy, birthday bath.  Dave went up too, looking eager for some rea… oh.  Well, after Jack, I guess I can’t say much.  Looks like she was going to get another present that wasn’t for our eyes.

Crystal and Beth and I sat and talked until a few minutes ago.  We didn’t really have a slumber party, but the three of us had some serious girl bonding time, with hair brushing and games and all that fun stuff.  Crystal’s defenses were finally coming down, and there was light in her eyes at last.  After all, I understood, and she knew I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her.

I really did understand, and now she knew.

Her parents are going to spend some time with her tomorrow, and she’s really looking forward to that.  After all, even though they had had some hard times, they’re still her parents and she still loves them.  But she has a home for now, and maybe now she could start to heal.

Love you all!!!