Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!  The one and only!!!

I didn’t like last night’s post.  But y’know, life is life.  And sometimes you have to write about life even if it’s a little messy.  I know some little ones read this, but I don’t want to dumb things down for them.  I saw some old YouTube videos of a guy named Mr. Rogers, and he was a really nice guy.  I wish I had memories of him.  But he never shied away from difficult topics, like divorce, or death, or other things like that.  He taught me that children are little people too, and sometimes you have to put things in ways they understand, but you should never talk down from them or hide things.  That’s why, even though I’m careful, I still make posts about that topic.

Oh oh oh Liz showed me something hilarious!  There’s a band called Baby Metal and they made a song called “Gimme Chocolate”.  That’s my kinda band.  A whole song about wanting chocolate!  And girls got game too!  I need to look at more about them!  Liz told me there are songs about bubblegum, and spoiled girls, and love, and conquering, and all sorts of other positive things.  But chocolate!  They love chocolate!  How can you not like a band like that?

It’s funny.  Liz is Chinese, and Chinese culture is really important to her and her parents.  And that’s great!  But Liz is really into K-Pop, and my interest in Japanese has turned her on a little bit to J-Pop.  China just really doesn’t export a whole lot.  I’ve looked for it and there’s a little, but it mostly seems to be translations of Japanese and Korean stuff.  Maybe I should ask her about that.

Well, for once, it was a boring day.  Worked and rode a bike and ran and studied.  I’ve been learning more Japanese!  I’m a little proficient at hiragana now! こんにちは!  わたしはねこです!Not really.  I don’t like coughing up hairballs.

I did ask Beth what Sabby told her that made her squeal.  She wouldn’t tell me.  All she would say was that Sabby was going to do something special with her.  I’m happy.  I don’t need to know.  I’m sure that secret can’t be kept forever, anyway.  I think Dave and David are going to do something special too, just so no one’s left out.  This is great.  Everyone’s happy.

Countdown to Disney World:  21 days!!!  YAAAAAAAY!!!!

Love you all!!!!!  ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

This post is rated PG.  I know I have some children who read this, so parents, please read it first!

So today was a day.  Liz stayed over, but went home in the morning.  I went to work, I doot dooted and Karen wrangled and shelf stocked and all the stuff one does at my job.  The owner really likes me.  When I told him I wanted to take some time off for Thanksgiving, he said “Go!  Go!  You’re young!  Enjoy being young!”  Besides, he said, the station will be closed on Thanksgiving anyway.  OMG he is so nice, he even gave me a little money to have fun with!  I love working there!!!

When I got home, Sabby called me and Beth out into the living room and sat us down.

She looked a little unsure of herself.  “Do you remember that talk I gave you?  A while ago?”

“Which talk?,” Beth asked, confused.

I flushed red.  “THE talk, Beth.”  Her skin complexion looks very nice with a blush.

“Well, Lily, you’re going to be away for a week, and I think I need to add something to that talk.  I told you how everything works…  but I didn’t tell you the other part.”

“What other part?  You don’t think I’d do…?”

She sighed.  “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.  Both of you.  I told you how everything works.  What your parts are for and what a boy’s parts are for and what happens when they meet.”

We fidgeted and nodded.

“But I didn’t tell you that when the situation comes up, it will be really difficult to resist.”

“How?”, I asked.  “I don’t want a boyfriend and I don’t want a baby!”

“I know.  I believe you.  But trust me, Lily.  I have two children.  There will come a time when you will meet the right boy, and you will want nothing more, than… to…”

Beth was beet red, now.

“And I’m telling you this in advance because if you’re not expecting it you could make a very bad decision.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to.  If no one wanted to, there would be no babies.  But…  but…” she put her head in her hands.  “I hate having this talk.  It makes me sound like I don’t trust you.”

“Do you trust us, Sabby?”, I asked.

“Let me put it another way.  Let’s say you took a vow not to eat chocolate.”

“NOT EAT CHOCOLATE?”, I said, scandalized.  “I’d NEVER do that!”

“Just say that you did!,” she said a little forcefully.  I quieted down.  “Now say someone dangled some chocolate in front of you, and said ‘Look at this delicious chocolate.  You can have as much as you want.  It’s natural to want chocolate.’  Would you take it?”

I thought.  “I’d like to say no.”

“But you would.”

I nodded.  “I would.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  You don’t want a boyfriend or a baby and I completely believe you.  But someday someone might dangle that chocolate in front of you…”

I nodded.  “I think I understand.”

“Do you?”

“My heart might betray me someday.”

She nodded.  “Your body, too.  But exactly that.  Do you understand too, Beth?”

“I think so.”

Sabby sighed.  “I might have to have this talk again with you in a year, when you’ve grown up a bit.  Do you have any questions?”

Both of us shook our heads, blushing like the schoolgirls we are.

“Okay then, let’s have dinner,” she said, and we did.

I wonder what brought that on.  But I guess it was good information.  It’s easy to resist something when you don’t want it.  But when you really, really want it…

Love you all!!! ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

Oh I can’t wait to go to Disney World!  I’m bouncing in my seat!  I don’t have a laptop, so Sabby is going to buy me a secondhand tablet, so I can keep in touch with her while I’m gone, and video call her, and write here, and everything.  I’ve always wanted one!  I know it seems like Dave and Sabby have a lot of money, but not really.  They have enough to get what we need when we need it, and a little more for a buffer, but they’re not rich by any means.  Plus tablets are easier to take through TSA, so that’s good too.

It’s quieter in the Smith house now.  Sabby seemed thoughtful today, and then after school she took Beth aside and they had a chat.  I don’t know what they said yet, but Beth listened, then squealed, and hugged Sabby very tightly.  I’ll have to ask Beth later.

I got my tickets today!  The Tangs don’t mess around!  I’ll be leaving from AUS to MCO on the 21st, and returning on the 27th!  I’ve never been on a plane before, not that I can remember, anyway!  The Tangs haven’t told me where we’ll be staying, but they said they won’t be cheaping out, it will be a very, very nice hotel.  Remember the one in Houston?  That was nice.  This will be much nicer.  Oh, I can’t wait!  I’m so bouncing!!!  Sabby is going to take me shopping for a new swimsuit, and hopefully one that is less prone to unintentional top malfunction.  I don’t mind wearing a bikini, as long as it covers what it needs to cover with a bit of a buffer, but it’s not nice when boys stare at my floppy bits!  Okay, it’s nice, but it’s not!  I won’t deny it makes me feel a little tingly when they look…  hungry, I guess.  And because of me!!!  But it’s not nice, because I didn’t want them to see!  I’m so conflicted sometimes!  But I’m a girl!!!  I get to be conflicted!!!

We’re watching a family movie tonight, as we often do on Fridays.  Liz is coming over too!  It’ll be fun!!!  Maybe this time Sabby will choose a comedy.

Gots to go!  Love you all!  I can’t contain myself!  SQUEEEEEEEE!!!!!❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

Oh I forgot to mention we got storms the other night!  In the middle of the night!  But I slept right through and the temperature was so nice the next day!  My run went really well!!!

So the drama continues, but it seems to be heading towards a resolution.  I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that Beth is fourteen.  She has her mature moments, where she acts like an amazing young woman, but she also has her moments where she acts like a child too.  And I guess it’s normal to be a little jealous.  Particularly when a girl goes from being the oldest to being the middle child.  I think we all forget that that can’t be an easy adjustment.  I guess I’m the oldest now, but even though I’m a sister, I’m the older sister.  She’s used to being the older sister, I guess, and now she’s not.

But I don’t want to take her place!  I just want to be Lily!  And a Smith!  I don’t really care if I’m the older or the middle or the younger, I just like having a family!  But I ended up being the older, and what am I to do?  I can’t change any of it.

Beth was calmer today.  I guess the eruption last night spent a lot of the energy.  Sabby and Dave and Beth talked for a couple of hours.  She’s grounded right now – I guess you can’t almost come to blows with your mother without expecting some kind of consequences, but they’re pretty light considering.

Sabby came to talk to me afterwards.  She wasn’t upset, in fact she was smirking a bit.

“So….  Malicious Compliance, huh?”

“I have no idea what you could be talking about,” I tried to look innocent.

“‘She’s you’re daughter'”.

I sighed.  “Well, she is, Sabby.  You made that clear, and you were right.  I’m just sixteen.  I can’t be everyone’s rock all the time.”

She looked thoughtful.  “Is that how you feel?”

“Sometimes, yes.”

She frowned.  “I’ve been leaning on you too much.”

“No!  I… well… maybe a little.  I don’t mind that!  Really I don’t!  But I’m not your mother either.  You’re my mother.  Be my rock sometimes too!”

She hugged me.  “You’re right,” she said, sighing softly.  “I put too much on you sometimes.”

“Only sometimes,” I said.  “I love it when we spend time together!  And I love it when you share with me!  I…  I just want to share too.”

“What do you want to share?”

I frowned.  “Like this.”

She reached over and hugged me.  “I’m always your rock, Lily.  Always.”

I wiped away a tear and returned her hug.  “I know, Sabby.  And I’ll try to be there for you too.”

I withdrew.  “Is Beth ready to talk?”

“I think so.  Just… try to be understanding.”

“I will.  I know it can’t be easy to not be the oldest anymore.”

“Not be the oldest…  I never thought of that.  Why didn’t I think of that.  Lily, you did it again.”

“Did what?”, I asked, confused.

She ruffled my hair.  “Don’t change, Lily.  Don’t ever change.  Beth is still up if you want to talk to her.”

She left my room, and I walked over to Beth’s door and hesitantly knocked on it.  She told me to enter.  I opened it, slowly.  She was sitting on her bed reading a book.  What else would Beth do?

I sat on the side of her bed, but didn’t say anything.  I just kind of twiddled my thumbs.

“So…,” she said, quietly.

“Why were you angry?,” I asked, quietly.  “I didn’t ask for any of this.  I didn’t ask to lose my memory, or to be found, or to live here, or to be adopted, or to be invited on a vacation with Liz.  I didn’t ask for any of it.  I love that it happened, but…  but I didn’t do any of it!”

She put her book down and glomped me.  “I know, Lily.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

“I missed you, sister.”

“I just…  I just get so jealous!  And upset!  Why do all the good things always happen to you?”

“Good things?  Happen to me???”  I chuckled darkly and disentangled myself from her.  “Are you listening to yourself, girl?  I’d trade it all for just one of your memories!”  I wiped a tear away.  “I don’t know what it’s like to be a little girl, or get my owies kissed, or play in a playground, or wear a pretty dress to church…  I don’t know any of it!  You made me your family and I made you mine, but I don’t know who they are!  Why do you think all the good things happen to me?  That’s not fair, Beth!”

I sniffled.  Beth handed me a tissue from the box on the nightstand.  I accepted it and honked.

She sighed.  “I know I wasn’t being fair.  But I couldn’t help it.”

“You feel what you feel.”

“What now?”, she asked quietly.

I kissed her forehead.  “You’ll always be my sister, Beth.  Always and forever.”

She accepted the kiss, and I tucked her into bed.  I turned out the light and closed the door.

And ran over to my room, and cried.

I really would trade everything for even a small amount of what she has.

Anyway, I think we’re okay for right now.  Sabby isn’t angry, Beth isn’t angry, we’ve talked a bit…  maybe the drama is over. For now.

Love you all!!!  ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I love Beth.  I’ve made that clear lately.  She’s smart, and pretty, and has a good heart.  But everyone has flaws, and I think Beth’s greatest flaw is her jealousy.  She gets jealous very easy, and wants to be the center of attention wherever she is, and gets frustrated and angry if that doesn’t happen.

I’m not telling you anything she wouldn’t admit herself, maybe with a little prodding, but it’s been making life very difficult in the Smith household over the past few days.  She actually blew up at Sabby!  She called Sabby a few choice words (for a fourteen year old, anyway), ran off to her room, and slammed the door. She wouldn’t answer when Sabby knocked, then yelled, and not even threats of grounding were working.  Finally she said that if Beth didn’t want to talk, fine, her internet access was revoked until she let Sabby in to talk to her.  Well, the door opened, and another round of screaming and invective started.  Beth is usually very even, but when she gets going, well, girl gots a temper!

Well, so does Sabby, and Dave had to intervene before it literally came to blows.  Neither were (figuratively for the moment, anyway) pulling any punches, and Sabby does not like to be talked back to.  Sabby kind of looked at me balefully as she stomped over to her room, and I shrugged.  “Your daughter,” I said, not without compassion, but as I said, I’m tired.  That seemed to enrage her more and she just stomped off to her bedroom, and soon I heard the bathwater running.

Guess I can’t blame her.  Nothing like a hot bath to calm a girl down.

A half hour later, she came out in her bathrobe and wet hair, visibly calmer, but still pretty hacked off.  I guess I don’t blame her, really.  Beth is kind of being unreasonable here, in my opinion.  BUT Sabby does have a temper, and sometimes when two people start arguing who both have a temper, well, immovable object, irresistible force, and all that.

Dave and Sabby are both in Beth’s room right now, trying to have a civil discussion with her.  I love Beth.  I really do.  She’s a good girl.  But I didn’t have anything to do with Liz’s problem, and I didn’t ask to be included on their vacation, and I am just along for the ride like everyone else.  I wonder if her not being allowed to go to the convenience store anymore and probably losing her friends has anything to do with it.  She never seemed to like them, but I guess sometimes having bad friends are better than no friends at all?  I dunno.  Some girls feel that way.

I am not this house’s rock.  I am just a sixteen year old girl, trying to make her way like everyone else.  Sometimes I know the right thing to say, and sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I just want someone to be my rock, you know?  Sabby is sometimes, Dave is sometimes, Beth is sometimes, and I don’t mind returning the favor, but Sabby was right.  Beth isn’t my daughter.  It’s her job to deal with Beth when she’s in this kind of mood.  Not mine.  I absolutely don’t mind helping where I can!  Don’t misunderstand me!  I love them all!!!  But…  Sabby was still right.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Love you all!!!  ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m tired.  I mean, I’m really tired.

I love Liz, and Beth, and Sabby, and Dave, and everyone, but sometimes it feels I’m just in a whirlwind of people being people and I’m just kind of along for the ride.  Sabby’s got her issues, now Liz and her parents have their issues, and now Beth.  I’m just sixteen.

Beth is a little upset and a little jealous.  On the one hand, I really don’t blame her!  Not at all!  She’s not really upset at me, but she’s upset anyway.  And while she’s my sister and I love her, I just can’t bring myself to try to resolve this one.  She’ll get over it or she won’t, but what am I to do, really?  I’m tired of making peace with everyone, especially for things I didn’t do.

I do miss her, though.

I found out that Liz and her parents are going to Disney World.  Over in Florida.  They’d considered Disneyland but they’re kind of being really sticklers about masks and vaccines and quarantines over in California right now, and no one feels like dealing with the hassle.  I’ve never been to Disney World!  I’ve never even been out of state!  I hear it’s really fun there!  More for children, but I never got to be a child, so… maybe?  I don’t know.  We’re going to stay in a nice hotel and go to the beach and all of the fun things people do at Disney World!  It’ll be a nice memory and I get to know Liz’s parents a bit better, so… win win?

I can’t help but feel a sense of…  I don’t know.  Something unresolved.  I don’t know why.  It’s not really bad, not an omen or anything, but I’m not used to this kind of feeling, and it makes me uncomfortable.

Anyway, gotta go!  I have schoolwork to do before bed.  Love you all!!! ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!  Lily Lily Lily Lily Lily Lily Lily!  LILY!

So what a weekend!  Other stuff happened too.  I went to work, I doot dooted, I rode Sabby’s bike, oh hey, I got paid too!  I didn’t tell you that I opened an account!  Sabby is teaching me how to manage money – I don’t have a lot, but what I do have is mine!  I need to take a driver’s education class soon!  My car is sitting there looking pretty, but I have to learn to drive it! I’ve been so busy!

Sabby and my little game with the money has kind of escalated – I put it in her purse, she puts it in mine, I put it in an ingredients jar in the kitchen – I’m pretty sure she’s about to go Claire Huxtable on me, but then I’ll find something different.  Hear that, Sabby?  You’ll never win!  Muahahahaha!!!!!

Who am I kidding.  She’ll win.  Shes a force of nature.  But I’m going to make her work for it!

I can just see her smirking now.  No, really, she’s standing at my door with a $20 bill, waving it around, and smirking.  I wonder where I’ll find it next.

So Sabby talked to Liz’s parents, and we’re going somewhere!  YAAAAAY!  YATTA!!! Liz is excited too!  You know, she’s a good girl, but she doesn’t have many friends – she spends all her time in classes and studying, and the time she spends with me and my family is really the only time she gets to decompress.  They told me they’ll tell me where they want to go soon, but it will be in the country, and they’ll pay for my airfare and everything!  AIRFARE!!! I GET TO RIDE ON A PLANE!!!!  OMG OMG!!!!

They’re going to schedule it for Thanksgiving so it’ll match with Liz’s school vacation, and I’ll talk to the owner to see if I can get the time to do that.  I think he will!  I’m a teenager!  These things happen!!!

Liz was positively burbling!  I’ve never seen her so happy!!!

Beth is a little jealous, I think she thinks that Liz is becoming another sister, and I told her that there’s lots of room for everyone!  Maybe she should think of it as kind of gaining another sister!  She seems unconvinced, but she’s not being mean or anything, she’s just acting a little… off.  I think it’ll be alright.  But I have to schedule some sister time with Beth soon.  It’s hard juggling all these things – Beth, Liz, work, school, even David – We still have to supervise him on his hour playing outside.  I don’t mind any of it!  But it’s tiring!  I see why Dave sometimes just plops over on the couch and zones out with his favorite show!

Oh, what is his favorite show?  He really likes the British panel shows.  He’s been really into a show called Taskmaster!  There’s this comically mean guy who makes people do silly things and then judges them for it!  It’s funny!  Not really my style, but I’ll watch it with him sometimes, and I do laugh.  The things those comedians do!  Mike Wozniak is an absolute casserole!  Bahahahaha!!!

We already know that Dave’s sense of humor is a bit more… slapstick?  I mean, he liked Airplane! and Blazing Saddles.  Remember that?  I still don’t get it.  Well, I do a little.  I see why he’d find it funny.  I do!  But I like things a little more… subtle.  But it’s fun watching him flop over, whooping with laughter as one of the comedians does something dumb.

Well, I have stuff to do!  Love you all!!!  ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!  I have become death, destroyer of chocolate!!!

So obviously yesterday was very eventful.  I think we’ll be feeling ripples from this one for a long long time.  But I think good ripples.

So today after work Sabby invited Liz and her parents for dinner.  I think she’s decided that she’s going to be more involved in Liz’s life, at least as much as she can.  Her parents really aren’t bad people.  They’re very strict and very Chinese and their Chinese culture is very important to them, but they really do want what’s best for Liz.  It started out a little bit strained.  Sabby didn’t even try to make something Chinese, because, as she put it, “if I can’t get it right, and I’m trying to respect their culture, I’m just insulting them instead”, she made something that was vaguely Asian-like, but with an American twist to it.

Sabby doesn’t have any problem making food from other cultures.  She says that emulating other cultures is very tasty and makes for beautiful clothes and hairstyles.  But she also thinks there’s a time to get it right, and to know when you can’t.  This was one of those times.

Liz’s parents seemed to appreciate that.  “Most Americans don’t really know what Chinese food is,” her father said.  “We understand that.  But we appreciate the gesture of respect nonetheless, and this is delicious.  What is it?”

Sabby grinned.  “A seafood medley in a light umami sauce with rice.”

They had seconds.  In fact, they cleaned the dishes.  For dessert we had something with chocolate.  What was it?  I don’t know.  It had chocolate.

Afterwards, we retired to the living room and talked for a long time.  Liz’s parents are very private people, they don’t really like to expose their family’s goings-on to outsiders.  That’s why they reacted so badly to Sabby in the beginning.  But Liz having left overnight really shocked them – they didn’t think Liz had it in her.  They had to reflect deeply on how they had treated her, and it took them a while, but they started to see it from Liz’s point of view.  So when they came over that morning, they were truly repentant.  As Liz’s mother said, “we can be forgiven many errors.  We parented her the best way we knew.  As you say, we can’t be faulted for buying her things and making sure she is well-educated.  But that we didn’t know how… lonely and hurt she was.”  She sniffed.  “That’s unforgivable.”

“You can’t change the past,” I said, quietly.  They all turned to look at me, and I blushed a little.  “But the future isn’t written yet.  Nothing is unforgivable, given time.”

“We’re planning a vacation with Zhi Ruo soon, and we’d like to take Lily along.”

Sabby frowned.  “I appreciate that, but where?  And why?”

“Where?  We’re not sure yet.  But why?”  They looked at each other.  “Because Lily is Zhi Ruo’s best friend.  And since you’ve treated Zhi Ruo as you would your own daughter…  we’d like to return the favor.”

“Can we talk about this and give you an answer soon?”, Dave said quietly.

They nodded.  Liz didn’t look like she knew quite what to say or think, her face was a combination of elated, pensive, near tears, joyful…  all of these different emotions and more were warring, and finally she just settled for a kind of cautious happiness.  “I’d love to share it with you, Lily,” she said quietly.

Soon, they all left, after Liz hugged all of us.

“How do you feel about this?”, they asked me.

I thought.  “They’re trying.  And think about what they didn’t say.  They don’t want you to stop treating her like family.  They just want to include me in theirs too.  I don’t think they completely trust themselves with Liz, and they want us to be more involved with them.  I think…  we just got included in their family.”

Sabby sighed.  “I think you’re right.  Only if you’re okay with it, so am I.  But not outside the country, not yet, okay?”

I frowned.  “Why not?”

“Because I don’t know what will happen with your passport right now, and until we get that ironed out, I don’t want to risk it.  I’ll tell them that too.”

I nodded.  It made sense.

So it looks like I’m going somewhere with Liz soon.  It’ll be fun!  YAAAAAY!!!!

Love you all!!!! ❤️

Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I’m not going to talk about all the doot dooting I did today.  We’ll talk about that kind of thing later  I just want to talk about Liz.  And maybe to Liz.

So Liz came back a couple of hours later.  Apparently Sabby had taken her back to her house, sat her and her parent down, and although I wasn’t there, Liz told me enough that I can paraphrase what they said.  It went something like this:

Sabby:  “Did you know that your daughter is so lonely she sometimes cries herself to sleep?”

Liz mother:  “It’s none of your business how I raise my daughter.”

Sabby (and at this point she started to channel Claire Huxtable, and that’s always a sight to behold):  “Maybe it’s not.  But If you’re not going to parent her, someone’s got to.”

Liz father:  “How dare you -“

Sabby, working up a full head of steam now:  “How dare I?  How dare YOU?  Yes, she’s your daughter, but doesn’t it say something to you that my daughter and I are the ones she came to?  She didn’t come to you!  Why didn’t you go to them, Liz?”

Liz, quietly:  “Because I knew they wouldn’t listen.”

Sabby:  “If it’s none of my business, finne.  God knows I have enough daughters, I love Liz, she’s a good girl, but I’d really rather not add another one to the list.  But then make it yours, for the love of…  this is your daughter, and it’s high time you started treating her like one!  Being a parent isn’t just about buying her things and making sure she has a good education, though no one can fault you for that!  Its about making sure she feels loved!”

Liz mother:  “We love you, Zhi Ruo.”

Liz:  “You love me?  YOU LOVE ME?  Then why don’t you ever tell me that?  Why don’t you hug me?  Why didn’t you EVER HEAR MY CRYING IN MY ROOM?”  She stood up and walked to the door, Sabby close behind.  “And you know the worst thing?  The very worst thing?”  Tears were welling up in her eyes.  “Sabby’s being a better parent to me than you ever were.”

And they were out.  Liz came back in tears.  I told her to get in her pajamas, and she spent the next two hours cuddled up to me and crying her eyes out.  Two hours!  How long has this been going on??  Finally, she passed out, still sobbing.  What could I do?

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think she was abused.  And I don’t think Liz would even accuse her parents of that.  I think they love her, in her own way.  And I think Liz knows that, deep down.  But they don’t pay attention to her feelings, and it hurts her.  A lot.  A very lot.

This morning, bright and early, her parents knocked at the door.  Her mother had been crying, and her father looked more defeated than I’d ever seen him look before.

“Can we… can we speak to Zhi Ruo, please?”

Liz came down the stairs, her eyes puffy, looking miserable.

Her mother scooped her up in her arms and didn’t let go.

“I’m sorry, Zhi Ruo.  I’m so sorry.  Let’s go home and talk about it.”

Liz…  Zhi Ruo…  looked at me, looked at Sabby, her lower lip trembling.  She ran over and glomped Sabby.  Then, without a word, she walked out with her parents.

After work, I asked her what they’d talked about.  She wouldn’t say, not everything.  But she did tell me that they talked for hours.  They weren’t completely apologetic, because they had been raising her the best they knew how, but they understood how terrible she was feeling, and that they knew that there would have to be some work done to repair their relationship.

But for Liz, that was enough.

That was more than enough.

Sabby is growing up, a little.  I’m growing up.  Beth is growing up.  David is growing up.  But so is Liz and her parents.  And as long as everyone is growing, everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.