Hi! It’s me! Lily!
A very thoughtful Lily today, truthfully.
Jack was spending time with his family today. I guess they wanted to visit the LBJ library downtown or some such.
Sabby took me aside this morning for a heart to heart. I love when she does that, but I hate when she does that, too. She had several things on her mind.
“Lily,” she said, “I don’t know where that trust came from. You don’t get it until you’re 18, so, it’s really none of my business. By the time you get access to it, you’ll be an adult and able to make your own decisions.” She paused, seemingly uncertain of what she wanted to say. “I’m your adopted mother, Lily. And Dave is your adopted father. When we took you in and adopted you, we promised to take care of your needs. I don’t want to ever, ever hear you say, to anyone, that you’ll give them one red cent of that money. Including us. Do you understand?”
“NO!,” she said, raising her voice. “Promise me.”
“But what if -“
She sighed and put up her hand. “What if we need it, what if this, what if that. One what if turns into another what if and before you know it you have no money. I don’t want that for you, Lily! You’re a generous young woman, and I can’t fault you for that, but you’d give it all away. I know you would, Lily. I know you. Don’t.”
“Even Jack. Especially Jack. He doesn’t seem interested in it, and doesn’t seem the type of boy who cares about that kind of thing too much, but until you get married, it’s yours. He’s not your responsibility. He’s his parents’ responsibility, then he’s his own. And if you marry him – and don’t you dare do that on your eighteenth birthday – then that’s a different story. But not until then. Let him make his own way. Do you understand, Lily?”
I lowered my head. “Perfectly.”
She sighed. “I worry about you, Lily. you’re so… guileless.”
“Guileless? What does that mean?”
“I trust the people I love.”
“You love easily. I love that about you, Lily. But I worry about that, about you, too.”
I sighed. “I promise. I seem to be making a lot of promises lately.”
“I don’t ask you to promise anything that isn’t important. Now there’s another thing. I want you here for present opening.”
“Can I invite Jack?”
“You can invite him, but he has his own family, you know. I imagine they’ll want him to spend Christmas with them.”
I frowned. This wasn’t how I imagined things. I’d imagined him and me and everyone around a tree and opening presents…
“Why are you keeping him away?”
“You’re sixteen!”, she said. “I know you said yes and he’s your boyfriend but you have a family and so does he! I’m sorry, Lily, but I want this memory with you. You’ll be eighteen sooner than I’d like, and I have so few memories with you, and… don’t take this from me.”
“Don’t take this from you? What about from me? Don’t I get a memory too? I’m with you every day, Sabby! I don’t know when he’ll be back. Why are you taking this from me?”
She sighed. “I was afraid of this,” she said sadly. “You’re starting to build your own family. Which I support – but you’re my family too. Is Jack more important to you than me?”
I lowered my head. In truth, the answer was no. And yes. They’re both important to me in different ways. I love Sabby. She’s my adopted mother, my protector, my confidant, my rock. And I love Jack too – he’s my desire, my love, my future. Maybe someday we’ll be married, and I’ll have his children, and Sabby… Sabby will still be there.
“I love you both,” I said. “I don’t want to choose.”
“I’m not asking you to choose,” she said. “I’m just asking you to spend Christmas with your family.”
“I have a big family,” I said.
She threw up her hands. “Fine. Do what you want”. She stomped upstairs and slammed her door.
I sat there and put my head in my hands. It’d been only one day and it was already getting tough.
There was, right then, a knock at the door, I went to get it and it was the UPS driver. He gave me a package and went back to his truck.
It was addressed to me.
I opened the package, and pulled out a beautiful silk kimono. It was the color of sakura petals, and had all the traditional pieces. There was a note. It said “I think this will fit you better than it ever fit me. It belonged to my mother and I think as my firstborn this should be yours. メーリクリスマス”, and it was signed Emiko.
I have a big family. And I don’t know what to do. I love Sabby. But my family is so much bigger than just her. I have Dave, and Sabby, and my family, and Jack, and his family, and Liz, and her family, and now Emiko, and her family, and… and… and how am I supposed to keep everyone happy? How am I supposed to… oh. This is what she meant. About the money. Right?
I texted Jack.
Jack, Sabby wants me to spend Christmas with her and the family.
I wish I could spend it with you.
We’ll have many more Christmases together, Lily. I hope, anyway. It will be fine. We’ll spend the day after together, okay? I’ll leave soon after that anyway and I’ve already told my family I want one more day with you.”
Okay. I’d love that. How will I get you your present?
I’ll come over tomorrow afternoon and we can exchange presents then.
Okay. I’m sorry.
Don’t be sorry. Family is important. I hope you remembered something for Grace.
It’s alright. She’s four. If you get her a little toy from the convenience store, she’ll love it.
Convenience store. Ah. There was something else there that might help.
I love you.
I love you too, Lily. See you tomorrow.
I walked down to the convenience store, said hi to the owner, and got Grace a little toy to play with. And I got two chocolate milkshakes. I walked home thoughtfully, went upstairs, and knocked on Sabby’s door. No answer.
“I have a milkshake,” I said.
The door opened. She’d been crying. Crap.
“I’m sorry, Sabby,” I said, and handed her her milkshake. She accepted it.
“You don’t need me,” she replied, and sniffled.
“Of course I do,” I said. “Oh Sabby, I’ll always need you. Even when I’m married and have kids of my own and… and… I’ll never not need you.” I sniffled. “I talked to Jack. He’ll come over tomorrow and we’ll exchange presents then.”
She sighed. “I know I’m not being fair. But I don’t want to lose you.”
“You’ll never lose me, Sabby. Never ever. I have a big family, but it just added on to what I already had. You’ll always be the one who held me that day when I didn’t even know who I was.” I paused. “I know who I am now.” I lowered my head. “I’m Sabby’s daughter.” Her lower lip trembled. “Sabby is my mother.”
“What about -“
“She sent me a very nice present. It’s a very beautiful kimono. I will wear it proudly and happily, because I am half Japanese. But she gave me up. She didn’t hold me when I was crying,” I sniffled, “or take me shopping, or give me a house, or… or….” I just flung my arms around her. “I forgive her, but you’re my mother.”
“I’m sorry, Lily.”
“I’m sorry too, Sabby. Want to help me wrap Grace’s present?”
“What did you get her?”
“A toy from the convenience store. It’ll last a week.”
“She’s four. That’s a perfect gift. She’ll love it.”
After we finished all the present wrapping and our milkshakes, Sabby went out to go shopping for Christmas dinner. I spent a little time with Beth. She was a little jealous of the money, but I asked her if she seriously wanted to trade all of what I had to go through to get it, because I’d make that trade. She thought about it, and then shrugged. “You earned it,” she said. And we got out a board game.
I hate it when Sabby and I fight. But I guess that’s what families do.
I really appreciate the gift Emiko sent. Truly I do. I was surprised to receive a gift, and such a beautiful one too. Maybe she just wants to remind me of my heritage. And yes, I am half Japanese, and yes, I want to get to know my birth mother better. But my heritage is Sabby and Dave. They will always be my real parents.