That was the most beautiful smile I have ever seen in my life.

Birthdays have always been joyous occasions. It was her twenty-fourth birthday, just as it had been mine not long ago. I am her big sister, I thought curiously, for being an October baby, I am seldom older than my peers. I settled myself down beside her on the bed, watching her mother prepare the chocolate cake she had so thoughtfully bought in advance. (She had also prepared a box of chocolates as a gift to her beloved daughter.) One by one, she stuck the candles onto the cake, sinking them lightly, before igniting them carefully.

Her father, hugging and supporting her from behind, was already on standby with his tablet, ready to capture precious moments of his little girl’s birthday. He brushed her stray hair away from her face, and told her it was her birthday.

We sang. Every single one of us. We continued from the English version of the popular birthday song into the Mandarin version, singing loudly and happily so that she could hear us, clapping our hands gleefully to our own beat.


It was then something miraculous happened. Being diagnosed with Rett’s Syndrome from a young age, she had lost her communication abilities and motor skills to the condition. Yet, there and then, it was as if she mustered every bit of her nerves and energy to lift the corners of her lips. She grinned brightly, and proudly, for a good few seconds.

That was the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. We all witnessed it. A true smile which rewarded her parents for the little party they had thrown for her. And it touched my heart.


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