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 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 32 of 32 in Lily's diary dated 05 - November 2021

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

Or am I Yuriko?

Or both?  Or neither?

Today, I think, will be a day for reflection.

I was looking back at some of my old diary entries.  I remember one where I was in a great mood, I was dancing around in my seat, calling people willy nilly silly billies, just having a great time.  I didn’t know my name, didn’t know who I was, everything before my finding day was an utter blank.  And yesterday some of that mystery was solved.  I found out I’m a half-Japanese girl named Yuriko, that my birthday is September 3rd, that my birth mother is named Emiko, and… and…  it’s really such a let down.

Maybe I didn’t want to find out who I really was.

Before I knew who I was, I could think anything I wanted about my past.  Maybe I came from another dimension and dropped here out of a rift in the sky, and all my memories are in the other dimension.  Maybe I was born in a test tube in a government agency, and they wiped my memory when they were done with me.  So many different possibilities, and yesterday I find out that it was so much worse than all that, so much more normal – my birth mother was pregnant, had me, couldn’t take care of me, and abandoned me.

I’d almost rather not have known.

I don’t know why she left me, I don’t know why she hurt me like that.  What would life have been like with her?  Maybe good, maybe bad, but I don’t know.  And I’ll never know because she took that away from me!  My own birth mother left me!

And I know I found Dave and Sabby and my new family and I love them to death but my birth mother is supposed to be mine, and instead I found out that she’s not, she gave me up, she didn’t want me.  Me!  I’m so cute!  Who wouldn’t want me!  Well, except for maybe the cat.  I’d say “was it my fault?” but I was an infant!  It wasn’t my fault!  It couldn’t have been my fault!  Could it?

I hate her!  I hate her and wish I’d never known!  I wish they’d never came to my door and told me!

Be careful what you wish for, they say, you just might get it.

Maybe she had a good reason.  The rational part of me understands that being a single mother having a child in the middle of an evacuation couldn’t be an easy thing no matter what.  The rational part of me understands that maybe she didn’t feel like she had much of a choice, and maybe she thought she was doing the best for me.  The rational part of me understands that she might have been young, and who knows what was going on with my birth father, and maybe she decided that that was the best thing to do.  And maybe she was right.

And I still hate her.

Emiko Nakamoto.  The woman who ruined my life before it even started.

Sabby talked to me today.  She could see the bitterness start to take hold.  She could hear the hatred in my voice when I talked about Emiko.  She told me that having those kinds of feelings never lead to anything good.  I told her she’s not the one whose mother abandoned her!  And then I immediately regretted it.  But the hurt on Sabby’s face…

I’ll never forget that.

She went to her room and took a bath.  She’s never done that because of me.  Never ever.  Afterwards she sat me down and told me in clipped, measured tones that her parents did indeed abandon her and that she spent her childhood in foster homes and that there was a reason why she was a “wild” child and that she understands that I’m hurt and having a hard time processing that I found my birth mother but don’t I ever dare to assume that she doesn’t understand what it feels like to be abandoned by parents.

I actually burst out crying and told her I was so sorry.  She told me she understood but I had hurt her very deeply, and that this is what having these feelings of anger and resentment and hatred leads to, and that I’d better check myself before I cause actual damage I can’t easily repair.  That she’d get over it but I only had one chance to get to know my birth mother and I’d better not wreck it because I can’t get past my own hatred.  Then she walked upstairs.  I’ve never seen her look so…   hurt.  And doubly so because of me.

I messed up.  And I still hate Emiko Nakamoto.

But you know what?  Emiko Nakamoto doesn’t exist anymore.  She’s Emiko Johnson now.  She apparently married at some point, and not Robert Landry.  Does she have children?  Did she give any of them up?  She seems to want to talk to me.  Does she regret it?  If she had it to do over again, would she?  I don’t know.  I hate someone that doesn’t exist anymore.  Would I like her now?  Would we get along?  Could I even treat her as a friend, if not as someone I could be close to?  I don’t know.  And if I keep this up, I never will.

I hate Emiko Nakamoto.  Emiko Nakamoto is gone now.  Would I like Emiko Johnson?   I don’t know.  But I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Now I need to go buy Sabby a chocolate milkshake.

Love you all!!! ❤️