Sofia thought she was well-prepared to finally meet the love of her son’s life. But when she opened the door, she found that a much older chapter of her life had found its way to the present.
Sofia still couldn’t believe it. “My boy is all grown up!”
The chocolate cake in the oven was almost ready, and the sweet smell of potpourri wafted across the room. And, of course, every nook of the house was sparkling clean.
It wasn’t some ordinary girl Daniel was bringing home, after all. “This is the girl my Danny wants to marry. And she deserves the perfect welcome!” Sofia thought as she fluffed up the sofa pillows one more time.
Daniel had been talking about his girl non-stop for the past several weeks. “Ma, she’s a beautiful person. She’s braved through so much in her life, especially after losing her parents when she was little! And yet, she’s managed to stay this happy, uplifting person without a shred of bitterness in her heart,” he had told her just last week.
“Look at you, talking so poetically about something and not in silly internet abbreviations. Whoever this girl is, I like her already!” Sofia had chuckled.
And last night, Daniel had finally mustered his courage, knelt with his heart in his hands, and asked her the big question.
Sofia was eager to know every little detail, every little emotion of the dreamy proposal Daniel had planned.
So far, all the news Sofia had was a text from Daniel that read, “She said yes!”
Daniel’s car pulled up to the driveway. “My future daughter-in-law is here!” Sofia almost shrieked and quickly composed herself to answer the door.
But as soon as she opened the door, all the childish excitement vanished.
One look at the girl and the noticeable scar on her shoulder brought up a wave of old pain from a forgotten place deep within Sofia.
Sofia was too engulfed in emotion to notice the shock on the girl’s face.
“Goodness, I can’t believe it’s you. That scar…and that smile!” Sofia sighed at the resemblance on the girl’s face. “Just like your mother!”
“How does she know my name…and how does she know my mother?” The girl didn’t know how to ask without being impolite.
A mother’s love knows no bounds.
“Well, good morning to you, too, Mom!” Daniel tried to break the awkward silence and nudged the women to go inside and continue the rest of their bizarre conversation.
“Stephanie, I knew your mother. She was one of the most precious people in my life. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her…and about you…”
Over a cup of coffee, Sofia revealed the story of her dearest friend Serena.
Sofia and Serena had first met at a hospital. The women sat next to each other, bonding over their growing bellies, and laughing at silly observations they made about pregnancy in the waiting room.
“Soon, we started sharing things about each other’s lives…”
Serena had opened up to Sofia about how she had grown up in a children’s shelter, never knowing who her parents were.
But the love she missed in her childhood came into her life a few years later in a whole different form.
Serena had found it in the eyes of a young man named Gary, who became the love of her life.
“I never met him. But your father sounded like a lovely man, my dear,” Sofia told the girl who was listening with tears in her eyes.
“Their small world of two was about to become infinitely happier with your arrival. But just three months into the pregnancy,” Sofia said, gripping onto Stephanie’s hands tightly, “your father was driving home with a brand new crib when he met with a terrible accident and died.”
“Your mother fixed that crib that had gotten smashed due to the accident,” Sofia recalled.
“And months later, when you were born, Stephanie, your mother placed you in that crib. For the first time since your father had passed, she allowed herself to cry.”
Daniel arrived two months later, and Sofia remembered how difficult those months were for her physically. Though Sofia had a sweet, sincere husband, he had to be away for work or would lose his job altogether.
“So for those two harrowing months, you and your mama lived with me, and we looked after each other. And whenever I was in unbearable pain, Serena would bring you into my lap, and your touch would soothe me right away,” Sofia remembered with a faint smile.
A few days after Daniel was born, Serena found a new job and an apartment very close to Sofia’s house. For three years, the two women made up for all the years of friendship they had missed.
“We took you both to the park, cooked for each other, and were at each other’s beck and call regardless of the time on the clock.”
“And we would often dream up imaginary futures for you kids.”
“I keep imagining my beautiful Steffie all grown up, dressed in a gorgeous bridal gown, marrying the man who loves her more than life itself. I want all the happiness in the world for her,” Serena would say as she teared up and kissed her baby girl.
Hearing these words today, Stephanie burst into tears and wept like a child. For the first time, she felt the presence of her mother around her.
“I wish…my mother was here. Just for a little while, just a part of her even. I had given up all hope of learning anything about her. And now that I know her, I want her. I want her!”
“Wait here, sweetie, I’ll be right back,” Sofia remembered something and ran to her bedroom.
It was a tiny velvet box. “Open it, Stephanie,” Sofia said, handing it over to her.
In it was a pair of beautiful diamond earrings, delicately made and dazzling all over.
“I don’t understand…” Stephanie reacted with a puzzled look on her face.
“This…” Sofia revealed with a lump in her throat, “is a pair of diamond earrings that your mother had bought for you months before she contracted that fatal virus. ‘I’m going to gift it to my Steffie on her wedding day,’ she had told me. And just a week before she breathed her last, she handed them over to me for safekeeping.”
Serena’s last words to her still echoed clear in Sofia’s ears.
“Now YOU have to do it. You have to give my sweet girl these earrings when the time comes. Tell her I loved her. Tell her I was proud of her for everything she would accomplish in her life. Tell her she was the sweetest gift life allowed me to enjoy,” Serena had said with tears in her eyes.
Sofia was moved, but she assumed that her friend would bounce right back to health. “Nobody dies of a silly virus,” she had thought.
It was this confidence that allowed Sofia to leave Serena’s side and visit her aging mother.
But when Sofia returned a month later, she was met with the devastating news of the death of her best friend.
“I knew nothing about your whereabouts; just that CPS had taken you away. I looked for you all over for six months without success. And then, when my husband died, I sunk into my own bottomless pit of grief for a while.”
“But when I saw you today, when I saw that scar on your shoulder, I recognized it. It had to be you!”
Daniel had been listening intently the whole time, with tears rising in his eyes. He touched the scar on Stephanie’s shoulder and said, “This is the scar I fell in love with!”
Daniel’s embrace calmed Stephanie and brought her back to the present moment. But Sofia still couldn’t forgive herself.
“I’m so sorry, Stephanie. I should have looked harder for you. You could have had a better life–”
“But I am about to, aren’t I? I’m sure my mother is smiling from up there right now, the angel who led our lives to connect again.”
The flowers that bloomed that spring felt extra magical, and on the day of Daniel and Stephanie’s wedding, Sofia gently helped her daughter-in-law put on the earrings.
“Welcome to the family, my child!”
What can we learn from this story?
- Some friendships are thicker than blood. Serena and Sofia’s friendship helped them get through some of their toughest times, and its legacy continued even after Serena passed away.
- A mother’s love knows no bounds. Serena loved her daughter, and even after her death, she found a way to bless her daughter on her wedding day.