The Perfect Present This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 6, 2012
Almost 20 years ago my brother, Shawn, died in a freak accident at the age of ten. Even though I wasn’t born, memories and stories of him still linger; I’m reminded of him every day. As Christmas approached this year, I felt that before graduating I had to find the best gift for my parents. There had to be one present that would make up for everything they had done for me.

I recalled my mother mentioning a picture Shawn’s classmates had raised money for and hung in the lobby of his elementary school. My mother had said many times that she wanted it. As always, when I asked my mother what she wanted for Christmas, she said, “There’s nothing you can get me I don’t already have.” But then I remembered the picture. I didn’t know where Shawn had gone to school, so I had to stop several times for directions before I finally found it. I could feel my temperature rise as I pulled up next to the only car in the parking lot.

Horrible thoughts of an empty building and the possibility that they’d gotten rid of the picture danced through my mind. I looked for it, but didn’t see it. I found a young janitor and tried to explain the accident that occurred so many years ago with tears in my eyes. I looked to the floor, trying to control my feelings. As I peered up at him, he explained that they had recently remodeled the building and put many things in storage. He was patient and offered to look for it. He didn’t have any luck, but God answered my prayers. A teacher appeared, and I repeated my story.

She was my sister Tammy’s and Shawn’s music teacher. She remembered them, and the picture that hung in the hall. Through her tears, she told me she’d been trying to find my mother for years to give her the picture.

“Do you still have it?” I asked. She pointed and there it was; a little boy flying a kite in a pasture. At the bottom was a small brass plaque engraved with “To our classmate Shawn, May 1981.” The teacher wished me Merry Christmas and insisted an angel had sent me. I wasn’t going to ask why, but it started to bother me.

Without my asking, she told me she had already left for Christmas vacation, but had forgotten something and come back. It was a miracle that she found me.

When my mother opened her present, she started to cry. “This is the best present anyone could ever give me,” she said. Now I know the true meaning of Christmas.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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