Hi!  It’s me!  Lily!

I had a wonderful time in Orlando.  It was the best time ever, and I am so grateful to Liz’s parents for bringing me along.  No matter how much I’m hurting right now, I wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world.  Not anything.  But that doesn’t change how I’m feeling right now.

I didn’t sleep very well.  This morning I went to run, and my heart wasn’t in it.  Jack came around, and I stopped running.  We just went to an unused corner of the lobby and cried and kissed and said goodbye and my heart just shattered into little tiny pieces.  I didn’t eat much breakfast.  After breakfast, Jack and his family had to go – they were driving back to Ohio.  I hugged Grace and told her I was sooo happy to meet her.  She saw the tears in my eyes.

“Why cry, auntie Lily?”, she said.

I sniffed and wiped my eyes.  “I’ll miss you all.”

She sniffed.  “I’ll mith you too.”

I hugged her parents as well and told them it was nice to meet them.  I haven’t mentioned them much here but they’re nice people.

I walked over to Jack and took his hand.   My lower lip was trembling, and it was all I could do not to cry.  “Don’t forget your promise,” I said.

“I won’t,” he said quietly.  He kissed me softly.  Then they walked out the door.

I waited until he was out of sight. I kept it together.  Somehow.

We all went and packed up.  I felt like a robot.  We took the car back to the airport, and I couldn’t even enjoy the flight.  But I kept it together.  We all took a car back to our houses.  I walked in the door, and there was Sabby.  She said nothing but extended her arms.

I couldn’t help it.  I grabbed her like my life depended on it and started to wail.

She just patted my back and let me cry it out.  I couldn’t say one coherent word.  I just blubbered and babbled and I was lucky if I got any words out before I just started to wail again.  My heart was shattered, just as I thought it would be.  Into little tiny pieces that tinkled on the floor and made discordant noises and I didn’t think it would ever be put back together again.

Sabby just said, simply.  “I warned you.”

I sniffled.  “You did, I didn’t understand, I thought I did but I didn’t and now I do and it hurts worse than anything I’ve ever felt and I don’t know how it’s ever going to be any better and I love him Sabby!  I love him I love him and it hurts!”  I started wailing again.

She helped me to my room and put me under the covers.  I felt someone crawl in with me and wrap their arms around me.  It was Beth.  I turned around and buried my head in her chest, and cried and cried.  She didn’t say anything, but I was soooo grateful for her presence.

Soon, I had no more tears left. And I still cried.

I finally fell asleep.  Still crying.

I woke a couple of hours later and the room was quiet.  Beth had left.  There was a chocolate milkshake next to me, on the nightstand.  And a note in Sabby’s handwriting.

“When you want to talk, I’m here.”

I sniffled and went downstairs.  Sabby was at the kitchen table.

I sat down and sipped on my milkshake.  Sometimes chocolate really did help.  This was one of those times.

“This is when it’s really hard to be a parent,” she said softly.  “There are times when you want nothing more than to be able to take the pain away, or even take it on yourself, and sometimes you can’t. This is one of those times where I can’t.”

I just looked down at the table.

“I tried to warn you,” she said.  “I tried to prepare you.  I think I did as good a job as I could have.  But…  you had to learn this one on your own.  I could only do what I did.”

“Are you upset at me, Sabby?”

“Oh, no, Lily.  Not at all.  You made better decisions than I did at your age.  I just…  I hurt for you, Lily.”

I took another sip.  “Be my rock, Sabby.  Please.  I need a rock right now.”

“Always,” she said.  I gave her a hug, grabbed my milkshake and went upstairs.

There was a text on my phone.

Lily?

It was Jack.

Jack?

It seemed such a silly response.

We’re staying over in Charlotte tonight.  I miss you so much.

I miss you too, Jack.  I will always remember our promise.

I paused.

Lycoris Radiata, I said.

???

Red Spider Lily.  Maybe we’ll meet again.  Maybe what we have together will die.  But maybe it will grow.  Become something different.  Be better.

There was a pause.

Let’s keep our hearts open.

I’d like that.  How are you holding up?  I cried my eyes out when I got home but I think I got it out of my system.

My parents and I had a long talk in the car.  We had nothing but time and Grace was asleep.  I guess my uncle had a long talk with my parents.  They said they had made a lot of mistakes with Zhi Ruo, I mean Liz.  He was afraid they were making the same mistakes.  With me.

And?

They asked me how things were at school, and wanted me to be honest this time.  So I told them.  I told them everything.  I think they listened this time.

I hope it gets better for you.

Me too.  Thank you, Lily.

For what?

There was a pause.  No matter what happens with us, my life will always be better because of you.

And that has to be the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.  Boy, girl, cat, whatever.  I melted, but for a whole different reason than the last week.

Keep talking like that and I might make some promises I won’t regret.

There was a pause.  Promise?

I giggled.  The first time I’d giggled since last night.  I love you, I typed back.  And I meant it.

There was another pause.  A longer one.  I love you too, Lily.

I sniffed.  It still hurt.  It hurt terribly.  I would have given anything to be back in his arms.  But life went on.  That chapter of our relationship is closed, but maybe a different, better chapter just opened.  Maybe.  But one thing is for sure.  My life will never be the same.  Ever.

There was a knock at my door.  It was Beth.  She opened it slowly and walked in.  She sat down on the bed next to where I was laying.  I put down my phone.

“I was jealous,” she said without preamble.  “But then you walked in the door and fell apart.  I’ve only seen you like this one or two times.  What happened?”

I sniffed.  “I fell in love.”  I paused.  “My heart is broken.”

She was quiet.  “Is that what Mom was warning us about?”

I nodded.  “I didn’t understand.  I thought I understood.  I thought I had it under control.  I thought with her warning I could keep it under control.”  I sniffed again.  “I was wrong.  That boy…  by the end that boy had utter control of my heart and I was glad to give it to him.  Beth,”  I said, “Falling in love is the most wonderful and awful and maddening and beautiful and incredible and terrible thing ever.  You’re too young.  I’m too young.  Sabby was right.  About all of it.  She was sooo right…”

“What does it feel like?,” She asked.  “To love, and…  this?”

“It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world,” I said wistfully.  “It’s like there’s a piece of my heart that I didn’t know was missing, and he holds that piece, and when it fit in I was finally complete.  When he touched me, it was… it was like it was just him and me and nothing else in the world mattered.”

Beth looked wistful too.

“And now I’d give anything, anything at all, to feel his touch again.  It hurts sooo much that he’s gone and I may never see him again.”  I sniffled.  “I can’t describe the pain.  It’s like a piece of myself is gone.”

“But you’re no stranger to having pieces of yourself gone,” Beth said slowly. “And why so dramatic?  His relatives live just down the street.  You think he’ll never come to visit?”

My jaw dropped. Why didn’t I think of that?! OMG am I being an overdramatic teenager?  What’s wrong with me!  He has a reason to come here someday!!!  And about the pieces…  She was right.  Everything turned out alright.  And maybe I’ll even get those pieces of myself back someday.  My memories.  Maybe even Jack.  The future’s not written yet.

“I guess I was being a bit dramatic, ” I said, my face beet red.  “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.  That really helps. Thank you.”  I gave her a big hug, then I sipped on my milkshake.  “Tell me about your trip with Sabby.”

And she did.  She showed off her makeover, and showed me some of the new outfits she got, and she chattered and jabbered and if it were a movie the voices would fade out and the music would swell as the camera view receded out the window.  It’s not a movie.   I mean, who’d write this?  But thank God that Beth brings a sense of normalcy back to my life.  She looks very good with her makeover, and I think she and Sabby bonded a bit more.  I’m happy for her.

Oh, and it’s fish for dinner tonight.  Apparently Dave and David had a banner trip fishing.  They brought home what seemed to be the entire lake.  That’s alright.  Sabby makes wonderful fish.

I know Jack reads this.  At least I hope he keeps reading this.  I love you, Jack.  I’ll always love you.  I’ll never not love you.  I hope someday it all works out.  But even if it doesn’t, never, ever forget that.  Maybe someday you’ll meet Beth, and Dave, and Sabby, and Dave will give you that famous talk about not hurting his daughter, and Sabby will stuff you full of comfort food, and Beth will be jealous until she grows to like you and sees you like a brother.  And maybe we’ll get married someday and have a house and children and all of the things that a girl like me and a boy like you dream about.  Maybe all that will happen.  Maybe it won’t.  But I’ll never, ever not love you.

But even if it doesn’t work out and we go our separate ways, It was a wonderful week.  The most wonderful, amazing, incredible week a girl could ever hope for, and thank you (and Liz and her parents, of course) for giving it to me.

On to the next adventure.  Whatever that is.  I hope this one is quiet and relaxing.

Love you all!!! ❤️

 

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