They hadn’t been to the beach in months, and she knew her daughter’s mind would implode if she didn’t at least have an hour to play in the sand under the radiant South Carolina sun.
But the day they’d planned to go out had its surprise waiting for them. Regardless, they managed to visit the beach. What she’d capture on her camera would set the country ablaze.
Shonda Jackson had been a single mom for most of her daughter Lily’s life. A personal assistant at a prestigious interior design firm, Shonda had done everything to give her daughter the life of her dreams.
They lived quiet lives in a nice neighborhood in South Carolina with their dog Fufu, who made up the third member of their family. But as summer drew near, something would happen that would fling them into the country’s center stage.
Shonda, Lily, and Fufu were the perfect trio. Their family dynamic was a well-oiled machine that made it easier for Shonda to take care of her daughter and dog.
But although everything was perfect for them, a glaring issue would take over everyone’s life, including Shonda and her family, forcing them to remain indoors for months.
Like everywhere across the globe, governments had banned going out unnecessarily. This meant that the things Shonda and her family loved doing, like going hiking, to the movies, and most importantly, to the beach, were off the table.
The sudden rules and regulations shook Shonda to her core for someone who’d grown up near the ocean. But she understood that it was for the best and stayed home. But everything would soon change.
It was almost two years since the government had mandated social distancing and staying indoors. But slowly and slowly, the world was coming back to life.
When the government announced that people could return to the streets again, Shonda’s family was beside itself with joy. They’d spent months cooped up in their house, and now they could leave. They had no clue what was waiting for them on the outside.
The first thing Shonda and her daughter did was plan to spend an entire day, or maybe five, at the beach. They had lengthy discussions about what they’d do once they were there.
What would they eat, and who would they meet? They mapped everything down, not knowing that South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach had other plans for them.
D-Day came for Shonda’s family, and the three family members quickly got ready for a drive that would deposit them at Myrtle Beach, where they’d spend their day.
They packed all they’d need and got their outfits ready. But as Shonda was carrying everything to the car, she realized that the blue sky above her was quickly hueing dark.
Shonda, Lili, and Fufu sat in their living room, watching the rain pound their neighborhood throughout the day. They’d hoped it would be a slight shower, only for it to double in ferocity and cancel all their plans.
But although the rain fell harder as the day tilted toward a late afternoon, Shonda and her daughter didn’t take off their beachwear. They watched movies, made cookies as they’d been doing over the last few months, and waited for it to subside.
It was almost five in the evening when the rain stopped. Lily and Fufu didn’t wait for the last drop to fall, as they were already in the car before the sky cleared up.
Sharing their enthusiasm, Shonda hopped into the vehicle and quickly drove to Myrtle Beach. But as they neared the inviting sandy shore, they noted something that had alluded them throughout the day.
The entirety of Myrtle Beach was as dry as a bone. The heavy downpour only affected Shonda’s neighborhood and not the beach.
Shonda hated that she’d spent the day at home instead of asking around if the rains had also taken over the beach. But as she was still deep in thought, something happened that snared her attention.
This adorable boy walked up to Lily and Fufu and introduced himself. He had a shark tooth around his neck, which he quickly showed to Lily.
After a brief smile-fueled conversation, the boy and Lily parted ways. Shonda was surprised by the interaction because she’d never seen the boy before. But something else happened that made her mouth fall open.
The boy suddenly showed up again. He came sprinting with a bright smile and seemingly in slow motion. He called out Lily’s name, who turned to him with her lips curled.
The two shared another brief conversation centered around the boy’s cool necklace and how it gave him superpowers. Sensing they were about to storm off to play, Shonda knew she had to do something or lose this moment forever.
With permission from the boy’s mom, Shonda asked the boy and Lily if she could snap a photo of them. Without any hesitation, the two positioned themselves near each other, and cracked smiles fit to light up the evening.
Shonda’s heart swelled at that moment, and as the two went to play along the beach with Fufu, she stared at the photo with parted lips. But it would only get better.
As darkness began swallowing the evening, Lily and the boy shared almost twenty goodbyes and hugged for a long time. Shonda and the boy’s mom were left speechless, each knowing that the two had never met.
Despite this glaring fact, they seemed like they’d known each other for years. As Shonda drove back home that night, she couldn’t help but think about the photo she’d taken.
One of the best parts of the photo was that Lily and the boy embraced each other despite being from different cultural backgrounds. Their connection had been instant, superseding race and skin color.
Still reeling from all she’d witnessed, Shonda decided to share the story on Facebook. She hoped her family would see the miracle she’d just witnessed.
Shonda took her family into the house with the photo posted and started dinner. Feeling high in spirit, she made mac and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens, and biscuits, Lily’s favorite.
She also put one of their favorite songs on repeat, dancing with Lily and Fufu as they made everything. She had no clue what was happening on her Facebook account.
Unknown to Shonda and her daughter, the photo was gaining traction on Facebook. A few of her family and friends had commented and shared it, setting it loose to the world.
People from all walks of life witnessed the photo’s greatness. Each of them liked or left a heart reaction on the image, most sharing it with their loved ones. By the time Shonda’s family was done cooking, something incredible had happened.
The photo had gone viral in just a few hours. Shonda had barely sat after posting it, going in to cook for Fufu and Lily. But as they sat, ready to eat, she decided to check her notifications before putting her phone on silent for dinner.
After a quick prayer, she turned her phone on, ready to see what her family and friends thought about her daughter and their new friend at the beach.
Shonda almost fell off her chair when she saw the number of notifications on her phone. The device was constantly buzzing, thousands of notifications flooding in.
She breathed in and out, unsure of what was happening. She didn’t know why her family and friends would create such a buzz around such a harmless photo.
“What’s wrong, mommy,” Lily asked, a flash of worry passing through her eyes. “Nothing, honey,” Shonda lied. She served her daughter some of the food they’d spent hours making and asked her to start eating.
She served Fufu, too, adding some dog treats in the mix to balance his diet. With the most important people in her life occupied by food, she turned her phone on again.
More notifications had crammed into Shonda’s phone, making the device lag as she tried to access Facebook. But Shonda was never one to give up so easily.
She fought through the stickiness, closing several apps on her phone. After a quick restart of her device, she got into Facebook. What she saw made her mouth fall open for the second time that day.
Her notifications bar was frozen, counting thousands of notifications waiting to be catered to. Shonda knew where everything pointed and didn’t waste time heading there.
She found the photo she’d posted earlier and grinned before setting her phone down. “Oh my God,” she muttered, covering her mouth when Lily and Fufu looked up from their plates.
The photo had thousands upon thousands of reactions, comments, and shares. Whatever was happening was overwhelming, and Shonda needed to breathe first.
With a grin, she took her phone again, ready to go through the comments. But someone called her, driving her closer to the edge than she already was. The caller was ready to tell her what was happening.
Shonda received the call, hearing her mom’s voice. Her mom informed her that while discussing the innocence and beauty in the picture, the reactions had started growing.
Suddenly, random people started leaving heartfelt comments and sharing the photo. That brought in even more people who left comments and mentioned their friends. But that wasn’t even the best part.
Among the positive comments were many people praising Lily and the boy for not seeing color and being friends the way they were. Others commended Lily and the boy’s mom for instilling great values in their kids.
But among this rain of praise was a comment that caught Shonda’s eyes. One look at the account that posted it, and Shonda knew why the person had written whatever they wrote.
Shonda had separated from Lily’s dad while her baby was just two months old. She vowed she would raise her alone and help her become the best human on the face of the planet.
The comment at hand mentioned that the love present on that beach that day was very pure. It described Lily as the prettiest, most intelligent, and most humble and loving daughter ever. Shonda couldn’t believe who had posted it.
The person who’d left the comment was the boy’s mom. Her comment had received hundreds of reactions, which drew Shonda’s attention. She knew she had to contact her.
After double-checking the woman’s identity and ascertaining she was the boy’s mother, Shonda invited her over for a play date. She’d had a great time talking to the boy’s mom at the beach and would love to be friends.
The boy’s mom responded almost immediately, thanking Shonda for all the kind words she said about her son in the post. As they came from Miami, her family was in town for the week, but they would love to meet Shonda’s family for an afternoon of fun.
The same way that Lily and the boy, whose name was Justin connected was the same way Shonda and the boy’s mom, Emily, became friends. The day that followed would be one for the books.
Shonda told Lily everything that was happening. How did she feel about spending the following day on the beach with Justin, his mom, and Fufu?
Lily was overjoyed, barely even finishing her food. She ran to her room and came back with her favorite beach outfits. If they were going back there, they would do it in style.
Shonda, Lily, and Fufu went to meet Emily and Justing at the beach the next day. The five of them had the best day ever. Even now, both families are still very close.
In Shonda’s words, “This is a moment that we humans can understand as simply seeing no color lines, no judgment, no race, no hate, no shades.” It is truly an eye-opening story. Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.