Johnny had just turned nine when his mother passed away. It happened suddenly and unexpectedly, because she was young, vibrant and beautiful, but somewhere in her brain was an off switch that no one knew about: an aneurysm.
When she passed away, some adults brought Johnny out of his classroom to tell him the sad news. He looked at their sad faces and thought to himself:
“I’m all alone. I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life.
Since Johnny and his mother had no family, he was turned over to child services, who in turn placed him in an orphanage. Before he left, a kind neighbor took him home to get his things.
Johnny packed up his favorite clothes and things, then took one last walk through his mother’s room, which still smelled of her perfume. The little boy lay down on his mother’s bed, buried his face in her pillow, and began to cry.
“Mom,” he whispered. “What am I going to do now?”
It was then that his hand touched something hidden under the pillow. It was an old diary with a worn cover.
Johnny opened the cover and saw his mother’s name inside. The word “PRIVATE!” was written in capital letters.
Then the neighbor called him and Johnny ran to his room, taking care to put the diary in his backpack.
That night, as he slept for the first time in a foreign bed, Johnny lay down and read the famous diary.
He realized that when his mother started writing the diary, she must have been very young, between 17 and 18 years old.
“Dear Diary,” she had written. “I am in love! Wesley is the hottest boy in school and he looked at me today! He invited me to the movies!”
Her mother put in all the details about her evolving relationship with this young man and then wrote, “It’s over. Wesley dumped me. He’s dating Myra. MY BEST FRIEND!”
The housekeeper suddenly arrived to announce the lights out. Johnny then hid the diary under his own pillow. He loved having it there, because it was like being close to his mother. He was determined to read the whole thing!
The next night, he picked up where he left off and was shocked. “I’m pregnant,” his mother had written. “I don’t know what to do.” Then, for quite some time, she wrote nothing more.
Days later, she resumed saying, “Dear Diary, my mother says I have to give up my little girl. She says that if I don’t give her up, I will have to leave home and raise her alone.”
“I have no job and no qualifications. How can I take care of her? They said she will go to a nice couple who will give her a better life. I can’t stop crying or kissing her little hands.”
Johnny put down his mother’s diary with tears in his eyes. He had just learned that he had a sister that his mother had abandoned somewhere. He was no longer alone in the world!
After the lights went out, Johnny continued his reading with a flashlight he had borrowed from another boy. “Dear Diary,” his mother had written. “I found my little girl! They named her Susan, and she is so beautiful!”
“I look at her, never going near her. I will wait until she is older!”
Her mother gave lots of details about Susan, including how she saw her go to school and the park. Then came the exciting information, “The house next to Susan’s is for rent! I talked to the landlord and I’m going to move in.”
Johnny checked the date and did the math. It was about a year before he was born! Fascinated, he continued to read, “Today Susan is eighteen, and my Johnny is four. I went to her door and stood there for hours.”
“I just couldn’t find the courage to press the buzzer. What would I tell her? Would she agree to know me? My daughter is better off without me.”
Johnny was stunned: his sister had been living next door to him all this time? She still lives there!
He remembered people talking about the neighbor’s daughter who had taken over the house when he died a year ago.
He had a sister and he knew where she was! He decided to go to Susan and show her their mother’s diary. She had a right to know that her mother loved her.
The next day, Johnny put the diary in his bag and left for school with the other kids, but halfway there he gave them the slip and hopped on a bus.
He walked to the house next door to his old place and knocked on the door. A tall young woman with long blonde hair opened it.
“Yes?” She asked. “What do you want?”
She didn’t look very friendly, but Johnny gathered his courage and said:
“Hello, is this Susan?”
The girl frowned.
“Yes, and who are you?”
“I’m your brother,” Johnny said, handing her his mother’s journal.
“My mother has watched you your whole life. We lived next door, and once she stood where I am now, but she didn’t dare ring the doorbell. She was afraid you wouldn’t want her…”
Suzanne began to cry.
“I want to see her! I’ve been desperate to find her since I was 18! Where is she?”
Johnny also cried and told her the sad news:
“She is dead…she died three months ago. I’m all alone too.”
Susan invited Johnny into the house, and as they sat down, they read their mother’s diary together. By the end of the reading, brother and sister were crying and hugging each other.
Then Johnny wiped his face.
“I have to go now,” he explained. “They have a curfew at the orphanage.”
“You’re not going back,” Susan said firmly, “You’re going to live with me. I’m going to file for legal custody of you. I’m 23, I have a house and a good job. You have a home now, Johnny!”
Later, Susan easily gained custody of Johnny. They became a family and had loving memories of the woman who had loved them both.