10-year-old Lily is heartbroken after her father’s death and misses him terribly until her life takes a strange turn one day. Her classmate invites her to play outside, where she finds a man waiting for her. Lily is stunned and in tears upon realizing the man is none other than her ‘late’ father.
“Daddy! Daddy! You can’t catch me!”
“You wait, little monster! Daddy’s coming to get you!”
“Daddy…” Lily whispered in sleep as tears rolled down her cheeks. “Daddy…I miss you so much. Don’t leave me. Please!”
Before the little girl knew it, she was wide awake and crying. Lily looked around her room, sobbing; it was dark except for the table lamp by her bedside. Yet again, she had dreamed about playing in the garden with her daddy…
Lily adored her daddy, Derek, and he meant the world to her. He was her role model and a great father. But some time ago, Derek and Lily had separated.
That day, she had just gotten home from school when her mother sat her down and said she needed to talk to her. Lily had thought it was strange. Her mother always served her lunch and then asked about her school days.
Lily had a feeling it wasn’t about her school, and as her mother spoke, the little girl got a clear picture of the situation, which drove her to tears.
“Your daddy and I… we’re getting divorced, Lily,” Sylvia revealed. “You’ll be staying with me because I don’t trust Derek with you.”
“And Daddy?” Lily asked curiously. “Mommy, I want Daddy to live with us.”
“Look, honey, you’re a big girl, so I know you’ll get it. He’s not coming back here. Daddy doesn’t love us. He…” she paused. “He may be nice to you, Lily, but he isn’t what he appears to be.”
Lily didn’t trust her mother. She burst into tears and began stomping her feet, shouting out that she wanted to live with Derek. Sylvia tried to explain that it wasn’t possible, but Lily was determined to meet Derek, so Sylvia promised to take her to see him often.
But a few weeks later, Sylvia stopped doing that. She no longer took Lily to meet Derek and came up with an excuse every time. Lily was only ten, but she had started realizing that all of it had started a month ago when she overheard her mommy and daddy arguing.
Don’t lie to your children, for they have delicate minds, and one lie can shatter them.
That night, Lily was fast asleep in her room. Suddenly, she heard loud noises and was startled awake. When she peeked out of her room, she didn’t see anyone. Then she checked her parents’ room and saw them arguing through the slightly ajar door.
Sylvia was crying on the bed, and Derek looked angry and upset. “How are we going to tell Lily?” Sylvia sobbed. “I hate you, Derek! You ruined our lives! I hate you!”
“Don’t act like I’m the bad guy here, Sylvia. It’s you! You are to blame for everything! I hate your nagging and those endless questions you shove in my face the moment I walk into this house! You know what? We are done!”
Lily was terrified to see her parents quarreling and began crying. She dashed back to her room and hid under her blanket, clutching her teddy bear. Back then, she didn’t understand why her parents were fighting, but she could tell something was wrong and that her parents no longer loved each other.
After Sylvia and Derek divorced, Lily clearly understood why her parents were arguing that night. Like so many other kids, her parents, too, were divorced, and Lily had to choose between her mommy and daddy.
The little girl would have happily picked Derek, but he insisted she would be happy with her mother, and she agreed. A month passed. Lily missed Derek every day, every minute, and all the fun things they used to do together.
After Derek left, Lily no longer stole cookies and ice from the pantry at midnight or went to the neighborhood park in the evenings to play, or ate pizza while watching Frozen on Saturday nights. After all, none of those things were fun to do without Derek!
But Lily was a bright, chirpy girl, and somewhere her innocent heart believed that someday her parents would reconcile. One of her friends at school had told her that even his mommy and daddy were living in separate homes, but one day, his daddy forgave his mommy, and everything was back to normal.
Sadly, Lily had no idea her dream would never become a reality and that her parents would never reconcile.
One day, Sylvia sat Lily down again and told her Derek was never coming back. He was gone, to a place from where nobody ever returned.
“What do you mean, Mommy?” Lily asked tersely. “Daddy promised me he would meet me soon!”
“Lily, honey…” her mother calmly said. “Derek… he’s gone. He’s dead, honey. It was a car accident. I didn’t want to keep you in the dark. I’m sorry, honey. I’m sorry.”
Lily was shocked and heartbroken. “You’re lying!” she cried. “You’re lying! I don’t like you, Mommy! I want to see Daddy!”
Lily dashed to her room, locked her door, and sobbed for hours. She even called on Derek’s number, but he wouldn’t answer. “You’re lying, Mommy!” she told herself. “Daddy… will come back!”
But unfortunately, Derek didn’t come back. He never even called Lily back or sent her gifts, like he used to, or replied to her messages.
As the harsh realization dawned on Lily that her daddy was not coming back, her world fell apart, and she was no longer the happy, chirpy girl she used to be. Lily’s grades started dipping, she stopped interacting with her classmates, and she was always distracted during lessons.
Worried, Lily’s class teacher called Sylvia and told her how Lily seemed upset all the time and was not doing well. Sylvia tried everything she could to bring her happy daughter back, but Lily missed her father.
Only he could make her happy again.
A year passed after Derek’s demise. Lily was still struggling to come to terms with his death and missed him terribly. Unfortunately, nothing helped her get over Derek’s untimely death. She had stopped going out to play with her friends and often stayed back in her class after lessons, painting or staring out the window.
One day, Lily was sitting alone and coloring when her classmate, Georgia, invited her to play outside with her.
“It will be fun, Lily!” she chirped. “Come on, let’s go!”
Lily didn’t even raise her head to look at Georgia.
“Oh, come on, Lily! Come with me,” she said, grabbing Lily’s hand and closing her coloring book. “You’re always sad! And you no longer hang out with me! Come on, let’s go!”
“I’m not going anywhere!” Lily screamed, pushing Georgia’s hand away. “I only went out to play with Daddy, but he is not here! Leave me alone!”
Georgia’s eyes welled up with tears. “Lily… Do—Do you hate me?”
Lily felt guilty as she gazed up at Georgia. She didn’t want to hurt her classmate. “I didn’t mean that,” Lily said as she stopped coloring. “OK, I will come with you, but I want to be back soon.”
“OK!” Georgia smiled and wiped her tears. “Let’s go!”
Lily reluctantly agreed to go to the playground with Georgia. They were playing together when Lily suddenly noticed a man in the distance watching her. The little girl stopped playing. “Georgia, someone is looking at us!” she said.
“What?” Georgia turned around and noticed the man too. “I see him, Lily,” she said, turning away from him. “He can be a bad man! But I think I’ve seen him before!”
“He… he is not a bad man!” Lily cried. “Daddy had that jacket!”
Lily raced toward the man, holding the ball she and Georgia were playing with. She couldn’t believe that her ‘late’ father was alive and right before her eyes!
“Lily!” Georgia shouted. “Wait for me!”
But Lily didn’t stop. She was shocked and in tears as she ran to the man and he embraced her with open arms. “Oh, my darling!” he said, hugging her tight. “Oh, Lily! Honey, how are you?”
“Daddy!” sobbed Lily. “I missed you so much! Mommy lied to me! She said you were not coming back, Daddy! I missed you! Please don’t leave me alone!”
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” he said, gently putting her down and crouching to face her. “It’s a long story, and I’d like to thank Georgia for helping me. I asked her to bring you here!”
“Yeah! And you run too fast!” Georgia panted, joining them.
Derek bought the two girls ice cream, and when he was alone with Lily, he told her he’d been trying to reach her for months!
“Sylvia didn’t want me to contact you,” he explained. “She had blocked my number, and she’d threatened to call the police if I showed up at your house. I was not dead, honey. I was in a coma.”
“Coma?” asked Lily. “What’s that, Daddy?”
“Well, just know that I was asleep for a long time, and when I woke up, I wanted to meet you, but your mother wouldn’t let me. Even the doctors thought I wouldn’t wake up… they thought it was a miracle. I think I survived against all odds because my daughter wanted to see me!”
“Mommy really lied?” Lily asked in tears. “I hate Mommy!”
“Oh, no,” Derek said. “You shouldn’t hate her. She was, well, maybe she wanted to do the best. I mean, she thought it was for your best, so please, no hating Mommy and yelling at her, OK? Let’s do one thing! I’ll drop you off today; no need to take the bus!”
But Lily was furious at Sylvia for hiding the truth. She decided she couldn’t trust her mother any longer.
Lily didn’t go home after meeting Derek at the school playground. Once he dropped her off near her house and left, Lily ran away.
Back home, Sylvia was tense. Lily was always home before 5 p.m.; now, it was past six, and there was no sign of her. Worried, Sylvia called Lily’s friends, but nobody knew anything except Georgia, who said Lily had met her dad at school.
“What the hell!” Sylvia cried. “Her dad… But Lily knows he’s dead!”
“She… she found out you were lying,” Georgia said on the call. “She was happy with her dad, Mrs. Hill.”
Never undermine your partner in front of your children.
Sylvia couldn’t believe her ears. She hung up the phone and sank onto her couch. “No, this can’t be!” she cried. “Derek can’t take her away!”
As Sylvia recalled her divorce and why she’d blocked her ex-husband when he tried to contact them months ago, she was enraged.
When Sylvia found out that Derek was in a coma after the accident and that a woman was in his car, she didn’t bother looking into the matter further. She was hurt and angry that Derek had moved on soon after their divorce.
Sylvia decided that she wanted Derek out of her’s and Lily’s lives forever, and his coma seemed a good enough reason to her. So she lied to Lily that he was dead.
Unfortunately, because of her lies, Sylvia lost not only Derek but also Lily. She thought Derek must have taken Lily with her and called him, only to find out he hadn’t.
“I had dropped her off near your house, Sylvia!” he said. “She’s not with me!”
“But she’s not home yet!” Sylvia cried. “I’m going to call the cops!”
“I’ll be there right now!” he said. “Hey, hey, listen, let’s look for her together, OK?”
Sylvia was panicking, wondering where Lily was. The single mother realized she should have never hidden Derek’s truth from her daughter.
When the cops arrived, Derek and Sylvia told them everything, and they began searching for Lily together.
When Derek and Sylvia searched the neighborhood park, they found Lily asleep on a bench. “Lily! Oh goodness!” Sylvia scooped her daughter in her arms and hugged her. “Oh, I found you!”
“MOMMY?!” Lily cried, rubbing her eyes. “Put me down! I hate you!”
“But baby, I—”
“Hey, hey, princess,” Derek said. “Let’s go home and talk, OK? Please?”
At home, Lily confessed why she had run away, and Sylvia was taken aback to see the hate in her daughter’s eyes for her. She explained to Lily why she didn’t want Derek to return to their lives, but Sylvia had no idea how wrong she was.
“I’m not seeing her, Sylvia!” Derek revealed. “Oh gosh! That woman in my car at the time of the accident is a realtor! After the divorce, I thought things over, and I thought we could, you know, get back. I know how badly you wanted to open a hair salon, so I was planning on buying a property for you.
“I just wanted to try to fix things. I didn’t want to leave Lily or you, but I couldn’t control how things unfolded back then. I was just hoping we all could start over.”
When Derek poured his heart out and confessed he wanted his family back, Sylvia’s heart softened. She realized she had been wrong to hate Derek and lie to Lily.
Sylvia promised not to lie again, and her family reconciled. The parents had their share of differences, but they decided that they would always prioritize Lily.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t lie to your children, for they have delicate minds, and one lie can shatter them. Lily was so shaken by Sylvia’s lie that she felt she couldn’t trust her anymore and ran away from home.
Never undermine your partner in front of your children. Sylvia always undermined Derek in front of Lily, which developed a hatred in Lily’s heart for her.
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