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***I have a long part to share with you today. It's the end of chapter one and the end of Lily's story. Hope you like it!***
Early in the morning on August 1, a taxi pulled up in front of Lily’s house. She walked out alone and climbed into the back seat. Two days later another taxi pulled up in front of Lily’s house and she exited the taxi carrying me. She waved at the neighbors who were sitting outside and walked into the house without saying a word.
That evening, about an hour before Stephen’s wife usually left for work Lily walked out of the house again and she was carrying me. She walked down the street with her head held high and took a seat on the curve in front of Stephen’s house. She sat there and held me and sang to me as she listened to the arguing coming from inside. The neighbor’s all watched and listened as they gossiped in disbelief amongst themselves.
Eventually Stephen’s wife exited the house and stood for a moment staring at Lily as she held me. Lily continued to sing as if she and I were the only two people in the world. Stephen’s wife got into her car and drove off. After her car rounded the corner, Lily stood and while still singing walked up to Stephen’s door and knocked. He opened the door and let her in as the neighbors sat watching in amazement.
That was the last time anyone in the neighborhood ever saw Stephen’s wife. At some point she must have returned home, because the car was parked in the driveway the following morning. No one in the neighborhood knew her well enough to know where she had gone or if she had gone of her own volition. Again, it was Miami and so no one asked.
People saw less and less of Stephen in the neighborhood, but watched every morning as Lily walked to his house carrying me and knocked on his door. The neighbors had no idea what was going on inside the house, but sometimes they could hear Lily singing lullabies as Stephen quietly played the piano.
To some, it seemed that Lily and Stephen were playing house and flaunting their forbidden relationship in their faces. The more naive thought they were just two lonely people supporting each other. Everyone waited to see what would happen next between the two.
At some point in early February of 1989, Stephen left his home and never returned. He walked out of his house carrying a gym bag one evening, threw it into the trunk of his car, looked toward Lily’s house and hesitated for only a moment before getting into his car and driving away.
No one thought anything about it at first. He had a gym bag. The neighbors assumed he was going to the gym or maybe to the laundry mat. No one expected him to leave and never return and no one, especially Lily, was prepared for his sudden and permanent departure.
The morning after Stephen left, the neighbors watched as Lily made her daily walk toward his house carrying me. She walked up to his door and knocked and waited then knocked again. No one told her that he had left the previous evening and failed to return. No one spoke to her at all as she took a seat on the curb and waited. Apparently, she waited there for hours while the neighbors looked on and gossiped quietly. I’ve been told that after I became so hungry I cried and even the sound of Lily’s singing couldn’t calm me down, she stood and carried me home. She never made eye contact with the neighbors she knew were watching, but held her head high and sang the whole way home. That was the last time Lily was seen by anyone in that neighborhood.
No one knows for sure what day Lily actually left home, because no one saw her go and her mother was too drunk to remember. No one knows where she went, but there was plenty of speculation at the time. The only thing anyone knows for sure is that Lily left and she did not take me with her.
Lily didn’t own many possessions and she left most of them behind when she left. She also left behind a sheet of notebook paper on which she had written the following:
I, Lilith Ann MacDougal, am signing over custody of my only child, Harmony Ann MacDougal to my mother, Clara Van Ingen, for one year. This will allow me time to find a job so that I can better provide for my daughter
Lilith Ann MacDougal
February 14, 1989
My mother had given me away. She gave me away on Valentine’s Day and she had used a sheet of notebook paper to sign over her rights.
You may think this was a cruel thing for her to do and there have been days when I would agree with you, but like I’ve said before she was my mother and I needed to believe that she loved me. I believed that she had the best of intentions and planned to return for me because believing anything else was too heartbreaking.
On my best days I believed that Lily was out there searching for me. Maybe she found and married Stephen. Maybe they were madly in love and worked together as performers in a small night club while saving every spare penny they had so that they could come back together and take me away. Maybe by the time they returned I had moved and no one could tell them where I was. Maybe they were sad and going door to door asking if anyone had seen me. Maybe they are still together and searching for me to this day.
On my worst days I believed that Lily loved me, but that she loved Stephen more. I pictured her running off to find him while honestly believing that she would one day return for me. Maybe he forced her to chose between the two of us and I lost. Maybe she never found him. Maybe she got hurt or sick and is somewhere right now still needing help. Maybe she died or was killed and no one was able to identify her body. Maybe she found Stephen with his wife and killed them both. She could be serving time in prison and still dreaming of the day she’ll be able to come home to me.
No matter how tough my life became I never allowed myself to believe that Lily didn’t love me. That was unthinkable. Believing that would have meant that not only was I unlovable, but that Lily was the reason my life turned so bad so quickly. So, no matter how much pain I felt or how hopeless things seemed I held on to the belief that Lily loved me. I held on to that until I took my last breath and that is why I saw Lily in the group of people who loved me whether she truly belonged there or not.
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