Having lost her sweet teenage daughter in an accident, Olivia found solace in helping the homeless. She didn’t yet know she would meet a young woman so close to home.
Olivia Freeman was nowhere to be found. She no longer lived in her beautiful old house in Faith Hills. She was no longer shopping with her friends or visiting the graves of her husband and daughter, who had died that year.
Olivia’s husband, Joseph, died shortly after they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. He and Olivia fell in love as children, and she always saw the world in his eyes through the prism of kindness and enthusiasm.
When Olivia lost him, it was as if she had lost her sight. But, without knowing how, she overcame her pain for the sake of her daughter Bella. Bella was a shy teenager who loved to dance and go fishing with her father.
But after Joseph left, her sweet daughter was never the same again. Bella took over her mother’s care. She even took an interest in the business her father had left behind. But with every hug or smile from Bella, Olivia felt inscrutable pain.
Before Olivia could even see her daughter again, Bella was killed in a car accident. This time Olivia lost the last thing that made her smile.
She did not have to hide her tears, but she was too shaken to cry. Life had become an ordeal and she could not wait for it to end so that she could join her family in the afterlife.
Once her friends cornered her and forced her to visit Joseph and Bella’s graves. But even when faced with their names and epitaphs, Olivia was left emotionless. It was as if Olivia Freeman, a woman who loved life, had turned to stone.
That evening, as Olivia drove home, it started to rain. Every drop that hit the windscreen terrified Olivia. A few months after the death of her only child, Olivia finally broke down and cried.
She stopped the car and let her pain manifest itself in screams and tears. After about an hour, a strange sense of calm came over her. She turned on the wipers and stared at the road.
Through the wet, muddy window she spotted a woman sitting on the pavement, drenched from the pouring rain. She hugged herself to her knees, looking up at the sky and trembling with tears.
She was sitting near a bus stop where she could have stayed dry and warm. Instead, the young woman decided to wait out the storm to let it wash over her.
Olivia tried to call her, but she didn’t react. She couldn’t bear to see someone suffer. She got out of the car, helped the woman to her feet and led her to the car.
Olivia went to a nearby cafe and gave the woman food and hot coffee. The woman hesitated to take every gesture.
When Olivia had the courage to ask the woman what was wrong, the homeless woman put the coffee on the table and said, “Last year, I lost my house. And now I’ve lost my child. I have nothing left.” She barely managed to bite off another bite of food. “And why did you cry?”
“I don’t have anything either.”
The fact that she shared her pain with a homeless woman somehow calmed Olivia down. As she drove her to the homeless shelter where she lived, Olivia made a decision.
“It seems fair to me. I will come here every day and do my best for the people here.
Maybe I can ease the burden of my pain by helping others deal with their pain.”
From that day, the pieces of Olivia’s life began to come together again. She found purpose in helping the homeless and spending time with them.
And that gave her a chance to meet an unexpected stranger: a homeless girl who was about Bella’s age.
“Oh my God, this can’t be real!” – Olivia exclaimed in emotional shock the first time she met her. The girl looked just like Bella. Her name was Annie.
When Olivia saw Annie asleep on the pavement, she thought she was hallucinating. The colour of her hair, the shape of her eyes… everything reminded her of Bella. “Maybe,” she thought, “I’m imagining things. ” But her friends had the same look of shock and amazement when Olivia showed them the girl’s picture.
Annie, who had never known family warmth, thought of Olivia as a mother. She liked Olivia’s kindness and generosity.
“As you wish, Olivia.”
Annie found Olivia’s request strange, but felt it meant a lot to her. She did not hesitate to take the DNA test Olivia had asked for.
A week later, Olivia invited her to dinner at her home. Annie was thrilled to see where her role model lived.
And the house bore witness to Olivia’s taste and modesty. Every piece of furniture and antique was tastefully chosen and arranged.
Annie was intrigued by every detail until she noticed the portrait. In an elegant frame above the fireplace hung a photograph of Annie.
“What does it mean?”
Olivia took Annie’s hands and sat the girl down beside her, beginning to explain:
In the large, spacious living room, the two women talked until the sun went down. Olivia told him that the DNA test had changed her life. It showed that Annie and Bella really were sisters.
“Bella was adopted,” Olivia explained.
It was the first time Olivia had said it out loud. It was a secret she had kept with her husband, and they had promised not to reveal it until Bella was 18.
But Bella died just before her 18th birthday.
“I had no idea that the little girl I adopted had a twin. When I contacted the agency, they tried to deny it at first, but eventually admitted it. They admitted there had been a mix-up and they were too confused and scared to fix it.
Thoughts swirled through Annie’s mind. She didn’t know how to react to the real possibility that her life might have turned out differently.
All the years she had spent homeless, sick and struggling for one meal a day, she could have lived a carefree and comfortable life.
She tried to imagine what Olivia was going through, but her pain and anger were too much.
“You have every right to feel cheated and angry. Take as much time as you need. Ask all the questions you want. I’m here.”
There was a long pause, heavy with emotion and anticipation. After a moment, Annie looked at her sister’s portrait. And with a slight hint of agreement she said: “Tell me about her.”