“I promise you, honey. Give me a couple of months and we’ll get together. Wait for Daddy, okay?” said Henry through tears to his daughter Mia.
“Don’t leave me here, Daddy, please! Where’s Mommy? Leave me with Mommy at her place,” she cried.
“Your mommy…” Henry hesitated. “Your mommy’s gone on a long business trip. I don’t know when she’ll be back,” he lied to spare his daughter’s grief. The truth was that his wife had died a few months ago after battling cancer.
He hugged his daughter tightly and said he would visit her again the next day.
“You promise?” asked Mia.
“I promise,” Henry nodded, extending his little finger to seal his promise.
That night, Henry went to work at a warehouse where he was the night shift janitor. He had finished another six hours of work and had two hours to get some rest before going to his next job: the grocery store where he worked as a cashier.
While working there, he ran into an old friend of his late wife Samantha.
“Hi, Eva,” he greeted her, “How have you been?”.
Eva looked at him with guilt on her face, which puzzled Henry.
“Hello, Henry,” she replied. “How are you, where’s Mia?” she asked.
Harry revealed that he had to leave Mia at a shelter while he worked.
“Don’t worry,” he assured Eva, “I’m only going to work these jobs for a couple of months. Once I have enough money to pay for the house in full, I’ll get her and we’ll never be separated again.”
Eva asked Henry if he wanted to go out to lunch.
“I have something to tell you. I should have told you a long time ago, but I was afraid of what Samantha would do to me,” she told him after extending the invitation.
“Of course,” Henry said. “Come on, let’s go to my favorite café,” he added, taking off his apron to have an hour’s lunch.
As they ate, Henry revealed that he was dedicated to earning enough money to raise Mia on his own.
“Our savings were depleted trying to save Samantha,” he admitted. “We were only a couple of months away from paying off our house in full…but now I’ll be able to do it even faster if I work nonstop.”
“You should take care of yourself, you know,” Eva said, “Working three jobs isn’t healthy at all.”
Henry shrugged. “I’d do absolutely anything for my daughter, even if it means not seeing her for a while.”
“I’m sorry this had to come from me,” Eva said suddenly. “But the truth is, seven years ago, Samantha got drunk at a bar and met a man. They started talking, and one thing led to another….”.
At this point, Henry’s breathing was becoming unsteady. He was sure he wasn’t ready to hear what Eve was going to say next.
“Samantha told me that Mia was that man’s child, and not yours. She didn’t want to tell you because she saw how happy you were when you found out she was pregnant,” Eva revealed.
After the horrible news, Henry was too shocked to return to work. He headed straight home, where he cried for hours.
“What did I do to deserve this?” he cried.
He had no relatives, his wife had cheated on him, and the daughter he loved so much was not really his. Realizing this, he decided it was probably better for Mia to be adopted by a wealthy family rather than return to live with him.
For two years, Henry refused to visit the shelter. During this time, he was promoted to store manager, where he once worked as a cashier. He was able to pay off his house and even bought a small, inexpensive car.
One day, while Henry was managing the store, he received a call from the shelter.
“It’s about Mia,” the man on the other end of the line revealed.
The man shared that Mia needed surgery and an urgent liver transplant.
“If you want to be a donor, you better get to the hospital as soon as possible,” he shared.
Although there was an ache in Henry’s chest to hear that Mia was suffering, he knew he wouldn’t be able to help. He headed to the hospital, where he revealed that he was not her biological father.
“We can still test you, sir,” the nurse shared. “If it comes back a match, you can still donate to her if you want.”
Henry realized he couldn’t live with the burden of letting Mia die. He allowed his blood to be drawn and proved he could become a donor.
“I’ll do it,” he said fearlessly. No matter how hard he tried to forget Mia, he still loved her and saw her as his daughter. After all, he had raised her.
That same day the operation was performed and was successful. Harry and Mia were placed in the same room, where they both recovered.
It was Henry who woke up first, and a nurse went to check on him right away.
“Congratulations, sir. You and your daughter are doing well. She’s very strong,” the nurse said.
“She’s not my daughter,” Henry said sadly. “I thought she was, but it turns out she’s not. I don’t even know who her father is, even though all my life I was sure it was me,” he said.
The nurse had a sympathetic look on her face, but decided to talk about Henry’s plight.
“Parents are not always the ones who gave birth to us, but the ones who raised us. It doesn’t matter whether or not your blood runs through Mia’s veins. The bottom line is that she is your daughter,” she said.
Henry realized that the nurse was right. Mia had always known him as her father, and that would never change. Likewise, she was his only daughter, and nothing was going to change that.
After they both recovered from their surgeries, Henry went to the shelter and processed Mia’s paperwork.
“I’d like to take my daughter home,” he told the manager.
Hearing this, Mia couldn’t help but cry and hugged her father with all her might.
“I love you so much, daddy. I missed you.”