While visiting her mother’s grave, Lily suddenly heard her voice and turned around. The lady standing behind her looked exactly like her mom, but she quickly realized she wasn’t. Then the woman explained her unbelievable story and did something for Lily that changed her life.
“Mom, I really miss you. I wish you were here with me,” Lily said for the millionth time while placing a bouquet on her mother’s grave. She sat down on the grass and started talking to her mother’s headstone, telling her everything about the last week. The teenager looked intently at the beautiful lettering which spelled “Isabella Hawthorne.”
Unfortunately, her stories were not good. The 15-year-old was struggling. When her mother died four years earlier, her father started to drink to cope with the pain. It seemed like he forgot about his daughter entirely and drank to oblivion almost every night.
Meanwhile, Lily was left to deal with her own grief alone, as well as the changes that came with being a teenager. It wasn’t easy. So every week, she visited her mother’s grave to feel some joy. The habit calmed her down, and talking about everything that happened was soothing. It felt almost like her mother was guiding her. That was just wishful thinking.
But today felt a little different. Lily was in a better mood and had something to tell her mother. “My teacher, Mrs. Garrison, says that I’m really good at writing, Mom. I think that’s what I want to be when I grow up. But I also want to travel and take pictures. Maybe I can get a job doing both. What career would that be?” Lily asked, pouting because she knew no answer was going to come.
“You could be a travel journalist,” a voice said from behind her. Lily turned around in a rush and stood up from the grass. Her eyes widened at the person standing there. It was her mother. But it couldn’t be. Lily knew her mother was gone. She might have been 11 at the time, but she said goodbye herself.
“How… what… who are you?” the teenager breathed, feeling cold for some reason.
“It’s a long story,” the woman replied, shrugging her shoulders and giving her an awkward grin.
Lily took a long look at the lady. Her face was exactly like her mother’s, but she was healthier and chubbier. The teenager could only remember her mother during her last few days when she was so thin she could barely move.
“Who are you? You look like my mother’s twin,” Lily said, looking at the woman’s eyes once again.
“You’re right. I am Isabella’s twin. My name is Elizabeth Blackburn,” the woman responded. “And you’re probably Lily, my sister’s daughter?”
“Yes, but my mom never mentioned having a twin sister. What’s going on?”
“I found out about her only a few months ago. My parents… well, adoptive parents, died, and I discovered my adoption papers in their old boxes. They never said anything before, but my birth certificate said I was born in Newark, New Jersey. It was amended with my adoptive parents’ name, of course, and they raised me in Brooklyn, New York, all my life, so I knew that’s where I should start searching. I decided to check stuff to see if I connected with any biological family,” Elizabeth explained, as she moved closer to Lily, holding her purse tightly in nervousness.
“Ok, go on.”
“Later, I found my birth parents’ information from an adoption reunion agency. It’s this thing where the birth parents and adoptive kids can find each other, but both parties have to consent and sign some papers. Apparently, they wanted me to find them if I ever looked for them,” Elizabeth continued.
“But my grandparents died years ago,” Lily hedged, confused.
“Well, they must have registered before that.”
“Ok. But how did you find me here? Wouldn’t that registry give you only my grandparents’ names?”
“You’re smart. I actually searched their names online and discovered Isabella’s Facebook. She looked just like me and had pictures with you. I’m glad she kept her maiden name, or I probably wouldn’t have found anything,” Elizabeth added, inching closer to Isabella’s grave.
“Yeah, she told me she never liked my dad’s last name, ‘Erikson.’ And I agree. I wish I was Hawthorne too,” Lily said, looking at her mother’s grave too.
Elizabeth breathed. “It’s a nice last name. Anyway… by the time I found her on Facebook, it was too late. I saw the message telling people about her wake. I clicked on your profile too. She tagged you in a few pictures, but you haven’t updated since then either.”
“Yeah, I don’t like social media anymore.”
“I knew where your mother was buried, and today, I decided to come to pay my respects. I wished we could’ve found each other sooner, though. I could’ve helped or… I don’t know… built a bond with my sister,” Elizabeth mumbled, her voice breaking at the end. “But you’re here, and I’m so happy to meet you.”
“I think she would’ve loved that. Mom was the best. She loved family over anything, and it would’ve been nice to have an aunt all these years. I’m glad we finally met,” Lily said, starting to cry as well.
“Oh, dear. I haven’t asked. How have you been dealing? You’re a teenager, and you lost your mother. I hope your father is taking care of you?” Elizabeth questioned, wiping her tears and focusing entirely on the teenager.
Lily broke down even harder and started bawling uncontrollably. Elizabeth embraced her tight, and the young girl held on. Through her tears, she told the older woman everything that was happening with her father and how neglected she felt.
Elizabeth couldn’t believe it and wouldn’t allow it any longer. She insisted on going home with Lily and introduced herself to her father, Hans Erikson. He was drunk already, and it was only 6 p.m. But the man blinked several times and uttered, “Isabella?”
“I’m not Isabella. I’m Elizabeth, and I’m taking my niece with me on a trip to New York. Is that ok with you?” the woman asked, not waiting for a response and telling Lily to pack a big bag.
Hans was still drunk but didn’t say a word as he watched his daughter leave.
Elizabeth drove Lily to her house in Brooklyn, which was an hour away. Days passed as she showed her niece the best parts of the city. Her father didn’t call or send a message the entire time.
Therefore, Elizabeth did the only thing she could think of and told Lily to live with her permanently. She drove back to Newark with the paperwork that would give her full guardianship of her niece, and Lily’s father signed without a problem, not even asking about his daughter once. She shook her head at the man and got back in her car.
Thanks to her aunt, Lily thrived in her new school and got a scholarship at New York University, where she studied journalism and took photography classes on the side.
Elizabeth was right there when she graduated with honors and couldn’t have been prouder when Lily got an internship at Condé Nast, which would eventually lead her to a fantastic career traveling around the world and documenting her experiences.
For Lily, her aunt was like a gift from her late mother. Thank you, Mom, for sending her to me, she thought almost every night of her life.
What can we learn from this story?
Be grateful for the people you have in your life. They might be gone in a second. Lily lost her mother to a disease, and it seemed like she lost her father too. Luckily, she met Elizabeth, who saved her.
Don’t let vices take over your life. Lily’s father couldn’t deal after losing his wife, so he lost everything else that mattered.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
Always value what you have