She had recently moved back to Hawaii after being away for six years. It had been so long ago when she moved away. I remember how I felt when she and her family moved away during my senior year in high school; I wanted them to turn the plane around and come back home.
"Do you think I'm beautiful?" she asked me.
I was hesitating to reply. How exactly was I supposed to answer this? My cousin is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and can be considered somewhere between overweight and obese. I knew that what I say could really make an impression on her, good or bad. She is only 18 years old and still trying to find her footing in this world.
She said, "There are some girls out there that are drop-dead gorgeous. I just want your opinion. How do I compare to all those really gorgeous girls? Guys tell me I am beautiful - a black guy even gave me his phone number while I was waiting at the bus stop - but I just don't feel like I am good looking. I really don't."
I didn't like what I was hearing. I once read somewhere that people can be the cruelest not to others but to themselves ("Look at me. I'll never be good enough"). I carefully thought about what I would say. Then I said it.
"Remember the time I wanted to use the bathroom at McDonalds but the men's bathroom was closed so I ran to Walmart to use the bathroom? I remember that me and your brother were waiting in line to order and you were using the bathroom. When you came out of the bathroom and was walking towards us, I had been thinking to myself, 'Wow, Jerlyn looks very beautiful and classy."
I was telling the truth. Even now I can picture her as she was walking toward me that day. She had been glowing. If only she could see what I see in her. She has so much potential, so much natural elegance.
"Really? Awe thank you. That's very sweet of you," she said.
The best thing that I could have done for her was show her that I love her.
And I believe I did just that.
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