(Author’s Note: I recommend listening to Count On Me by CeCe Winans and Whitney Houston while reading this segment)
Claudia let out the breathe she didn’t even realize she was holding as she looked around the room that had once belonged to her brother Robert Angelo. Even after 8 years after the heinous act that stole him away from the family she still felt the sting of loss knowing that she would never be able to talk to her baby brother. It hurt so much knowing that their kids would not grow up together. Of course there were the triplets David, Daniel and Dexter, but Claudia and Angelo had always enjoyed a special bond being the eldest. It was a blessing that Devon had been with her when her father called to tell her Angelo had been killed in the bombing of an abortion clinic where he volunteered as a counselor while he was in medical school at Emory University in Atlanta. Angelo was one of those rare sweet souls who only sought to help others. While many pro-life groups applauded the efforts of the bomber, no one was ever arrested for the crime which now resided deep in a cold case file.
Claudia felt the rage rising within her as the scab covering her loss ripped open and she felt the mourning of her sibling rush over her like it was yesterday.
“Baby, are you okay? What’s wrong?” Devon asked walking into the room and seeing his wife in visible pain. He rushed to her side and pulled her close to his heart when it dawned on him.
“This was Angelo’s room, wasn’t it?” he asked his wife, sure that he’d guessed at the true reason for her distress.
Claudia managed a nod but couldn’t stop the flow of tears or manage to get any words pass the lump in her throat. Devon lifted her into his arms and moved over to the oversized arm chair near the window and brought them both down gently into the comfortable seat.
“Baby, I want you to try this, think about one of the happiest memories you had in this room with Angelo.” Devon said, knowing that he had to help Claudia work her way out of the darkness that was threatening to drag her down.
Claudia drew the sleeve of her sweatshirt across her eyes and worked to get her breathing under control. She pressed her ear up against her husband’s strong chest and listened to the rhythm his heart was beating out. Slowly, she felt her control reasserting itself and she thought back on the Superman Incident.
“Mama was pregnant with the trips and Angelo and I were up here playing. It was hot as hell that summer so we had box fans set up everywhere trying to stay cool. It was a Saturday and we’d just finished watching The Adventures of Superman when Angelo got it in his head that if he had a cape, he could fly. So he grabbed this blue and white blanket that Grandma Sutherland had made for him, tied it around his neck. Then he told me to point the box fan towards him and climbed up on top of his tall dresser. That dresser had to be about 4ft tall. Just as he was about to jump, Daddy walked into the room. I’ve never seen Daddy move so fast. Angelo jumped off the dresser and was headed straight into the fan when Daddy caught him. He wore both of our tales out for that little stunt. Angelo could have broken his neck!” Claudia smiled thinking about all kinds of other shenanigans she and Angelo used to get into.
“Wow, I can see we probably need to install motion activated cameras up in this piece! You didn’t tell me you were that kinda rowdy as a kid, woman!” Devon laughed and squeezed and tickled his wife who started giggling and squirming under the assault.
“I was 7 and he was 5. Truthfully, we both should have known better but back then I loved being his hero,” she said softly.
“And now, our little Lizzie will have a chance to make even more memories in this room. Speaking of Lizzie, where are the kids?”
Claudia told him about the note her mother left and Devon howled when she got to the part about soundproofing. “Well, at least she knows I’m not guilty of alienation of affection,” he said.
Claudia punched him gently in the shoulder and climbed out of his lap. Devon stood up and stretched then asked, “So what do we do with all of this free time?” arching his eyebrows and twiddling an imaginary cigar like Groucho Marx.
“Well, I guess we should run over to Home Depot and get some soundproofing stuff,” Claudia tossed back moving towards the door.
“Touche, my love. Well, I guess we could start with finding some breakfast. You want to cook something or should we go out?” he asked.
“Let’s wash up and walk over to the Square to catch the Farmer’s Market. I mean, how often do we get to go out without worrying about chasing after the kids…”
“Sounds like a plan. Race you to the shower!” Devon skirted around her, out the door and down the hallway before Claudia recouped and took off after him back downstairs to their master suite.
To be continued…