I received the best birthday present of my childhood when I turned two—a baby doll with a laughing face, blinking eyes, and soft body. I named her Cindy and bonded with her like a mother with her newborn daughter. Cindy went everywhere with me, slept every night with me, and was my most treasured possession. Growing up, my sister and I thrived on protecting flightless baby birds, sightless kittens, and lifeless dolls. We knew when we were needed, and we rose to the challenge—rigging up a nest for the hatchling and hanging it close to the mother bird’s nest, returning kittens to their mother, and making sure the dolly had everything she needed for an outing to the farmers’ market. We were learning to offer shelter to those who depended on us.
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