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!!!

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