Cousin Faith was living with us then.
She’s not really my cousin. She’s not even related to the family, neither by blood nor by law. But my actual cousin grew up with her and Faith’s family so—since I could remember—she’s always been part of ours. So when she asked to live with us while she looked for work and a place of her own, we readily welcomed her into our home.
It didn’t take long for her to find work; she became a teacher for kindergarteners in the next city, which was about an hour’s commute. My father taught her how to get there.
Kids love Faith. I love her. Like most preschool teachers are, she’s perky and has this sing-song voice. And she never runs out of jokes and anecdotes. Granted they’re not always hits but her smile always does the trick.
My birthday party was in full swing!
Guests already filled the house. My parents were busy attending to them. My brothers and their friends had their own corners. Grownups were looking over the food at the table. Children were running all over the place. Save for one.
I was still up in my room, absent from my own party. I haven’t even had dinner, much less cake.
Worried, my mother went upstairs to check on me. She would’ve opened the door wide had she not notice that I was kneeling. And upon closer inspection, I was crying. She listened to me talk above a whisper. And when I finished, she came over and gave me an assuring hug. I still wouldn’t stop crying though.
Between sobs, I explained my worry: it’s only been a couple of days since Cousin Faith learned how to commute by herself. She wasn’t home yet. She could be lost in the city. I wanted the whole family together for my birthday that it was all I could ask for that day. I wanted it so bad I couldn’t help but cry.
I received more hugs—and even kisses—that day, besides presents. It was my birthday after all.
But I received one more hug. And that one lingered far longer than most. And it came with a smile. I too smiled for I was relieved. I was glad I got what I prayed for.