Ethan scratched Jackson behind the ears. “Just a couple of days now, and my baby sister will be here,” he said to the big black dog. Ethan traced his finger across the map spread out on his desk. “Right now they’re in Colorado,” he said. “They will drive all day, and then they’ll be in Oklahoma, where the baby is.”
Ethan smiled and closed his eyes. He imagined helping Mom feed the baby and rock her to sleep, the way he helped with his little cousins. Having a sister was going to be great!
Ethan grabbed his baseball mitt. “Come on, Jackson,” he said. “Let’s go outside.”
Just then, Grandma came into his room. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked.
“OK,” Ethan said, tossing a ball and catching it in his mitt. “Do you think Mom and Dad are past Colorado yet?”
“Well, that’s what I need to talk to you about,” Grandma said, sitting down on his bed. “Your dad just called because they are on their way home.”
“Already?” Ethan asked. “They must have driven really fast!”
“No, honey,” Grandma said. “They got a call saying the baby wouldn’t be placed for adoption after all, so they turned around.”
Ethan dropped his baseball. “My sister isn’t coming?” he asked.
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” Grandma said. She held out her arms to him, and they sat together for a long time.
When his parents pulled into the driveway, Ethan was waiting on the front step.
“Hi, buddy,” Dad called to him.
“Hi.” Ethan tried to smile, but his mouth wouldn’t cooperate. He ran to give Mom a hug.
“Let’s go inside and talk about what happened,” Dad said.
Sitting on the couch between Mom and Dad, Ethan felt happier—but somehow empty inside too.
“We can keep trying to find a baby, right?” Ethan asked. “We’ll find me a brother or sister soon.”
“Maybe someday,” Mom said. “But not right away.”
“Why not?” Ethan asked, frowning.
“Trying to adopt a baby is hard,” Dad explained. “And it costs a lot of money.” He patted Ethan’s knee. “Your mom and I have prayed and talked about it, and we feel that for now we can be happy with what we have—each other and you.”
Ethan jumped off the couch. “You mean I’ll never have a brother or sister? I’m going to be alone forever?”
“Ethan, you’re not alone, even though I know sometimes it might feel that way,” Dad said. “You have us, and Jackson, and your grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins.”
“And so many friends who love you too,” Mom said.
Ethan nodded. But still the emptiness inside him ached.
“Most important,” Dad said, “you can always have the Holy Ghost with you—just like you were promised after you were baptized.”
Ethan thought of all the people who were with him at his baptism. Then he looked across the room at the picture of his family: Mom, Dad, and himself. He imagined that Jesus was in the picture with them too. And that thought made him feel a little better.
“Then I won’t be alone,” Ethan said. “I’ll be OK.”
Mom and Dad gave Ethan a tight hug. Then Ethan said, “Hey, Dad, let’s play ball.” And he ran to his room for his baseball mitt.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy
“Friend to Friend: On the Lord’s Side,” Friend, Sept. 2002, 9.