My Sweet Carolina,

You're eighteen today, which means you are legally an adult! I have considered you an adult since you were fifteen though, when you started taking care of me. There is so much in your life that I wish I could change for you, but I can't. If you are reading this letter; that means that I am gone. Do yourself a favor: Don't be sad. Remember the happy times we had. Eighteen years ago I got the best gift I could have ever asked for. Even though I wasn't prepared, I wouldn't change anything about our relationship, except maybe that I would still be there with you. I want desperately to meet the boy you marry, to hold my grandkids, and yeah, I know you say don't want any, but I bet once you meet the right guy, things will change. That is what happened for me. I avoided talking about your father for eighteen years. I didn't want to relive my times with him, but as a parting gift, I will finally tell you about your father. I will relive my moments with him one more time for you. Every year for your birthday since I can remember when I asked you what you wanted for your birthday, you always replied with the same answer. You would look at me with your big blue eyes and always reply with, "My dad." It will take a while, but I promise you, by the end of all of this, you will understand your dad a little more. Do yourself a favor and go look under the loose floorboard that you used to keep your Star Wars action figures in.

Do what it says.

Never forget how much I love you, Carolina.

Keep your head up,

Mom.

I stared at the letter for a while. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. My mom died two months ago. She had cancer, and it was the worst thing I have ever had to go through. I only imagine it had to be worse for her. My mom's name was Lena Morris. She died when she was 40 years old. 40 is awful young to me.

She loved me more than life itself and made sure I had everything I needed. She raised me by herself, with a little help from my grandmother. My grandmother was the one who gave me the note from my mom. She handed it to me with a sour face that I now understood. She had a large distaste for my father. She only met him once, but she knew that he wasn't good for my mom. My mom always talked highly of my father though, when I could get her to talk about him that is.

I placed the note in a bin on my desk, where I kept my favorite memories of my mom and then grabbed a screwdriver. I walked the few steps to the loose floorboard in the main hallway. The board was wedged in there pretty hard, because my mom obviously didn't know the trick to getting it in there easily. I never got a chance to show her. I grabbed the envelope out of the secret hiding place and examined the outside. My name was written in her elegant print, along with "Happy Birthday!" I carefully slid the contents of the package out into my lap. 5,000 dollars, a plane ticket to Phoenix, Arizona, an address and a picture of the two of us. I stared at the contents. Was this my dad's address? Did my dad live in Phoenix?

The plane left in two days.

I guess I would find out then.

I hope my mom knew what she was doing. I sure as hell didn't.