After our weddings, we took our honeymoon in Egypt. Alana had arranged for some sort of gig with the band. Truth be told, I would have preferred a honeymoon in France or China…somewhere where being driven around in a limo didn’t seem so anachronous.
I know the guys were looking forward to our stay in Egypt. They were hoping to gain some international fame. Me, on the other hand, I couldn’t help but look at our lodgings—tents—and be somewhat disappointed.
“Do we have to rough it?”
“No, but we stand a chance of avoiding paparazzi out here. If we stay in a nice bed and breakfast, they’d be hounding us everywhere,” Caleb told me reasonably. He was right, but I think that a little attention would have been better than sleeping on the hard ground.
There was an interesting sort of market place that we were able to explore. The shopping wasn’t as good as Bridgeport or even Twinbrook, but it was ok. Caleb found a snake charming basket and tried his hand at it. He might be a musician, but he wasn’t too good at it.
“Get your butt off the sand,” Alana chided him. “We don’t need you getting bitten before our gig,” she said.
“And besides,” Ron added, “You sound like a dying frog.”
“As soon as I figure out this flute, I’ll have it,” Caleb laughed. “I want to see if I can make a snake dance.”
“You can make me dance,” I said. “Just not with that horrible flute.”
Eventually Caleb gave up his efforts. He never did see a snake. He kept threatening to go back and try again but we all dissuaded him.
We all tried the local foods in the market, but they were so strange that most of the time we ended up eating camp foods that we were more familiar with. There wasn’t much to cook with, so we had a lot of quick meals.
The band’s concert in the market square was fairly successful. I don’t think it went exactly like Alana thought it would. However, the band did get noticed by the locals.
I enjoyed myself. I tried to get the locals dancing by doing so myself, but this wasn’t very successful. I guess Egyptians aren’t that outgoing. At least the press was there and made sure to photograph each of the band members.
Even I couldn’t escape being photographed. I tried to tell people that I wasn’t a member of the band, but they didn’t understand. I was as gracious as I could be, posing whenever anyone asked. I felt like an idiot, but I was trying to help my husband and my brother as much as I could.
In the end, the paparazzi followed us to our camp and started taking pictures of us all the time. I regretted being so cooperative at the concert. I didn’t like being woken up to flash bulbs and having my every move documented by the tabloids. Honeymoons are supposed to be about woohoo and fun, but we weren’t left alone long enough to really enjoy that aspect. Who wants to woohoo with a camera always trained on you?
We actually ended up cutting our trip to Egypt short because we couldn’t get away from the paparazzi. We didn’t even get to go exploring.
At home, though, the band was more popular than ever. They got their own tour bus and started playing gigs everywhere. Even when Alana discovered that her honeymoon had had consequences, it didn’t stop the band from playing.
I was happy for my brother and his wife. But I was glad that I wasn’t in the same condition. Caleb and I hadn’t really talked about having kids together. He knew about Charlie. He also knew that I was still very focused on my career. I just assumed that he was as focused as I was. We’d have time to have kids later.
Sometimes, though, later creeps up on you sooner than you expect. It crashes into your life with the shrill cry of a cell phone ring tone.
I was the last out of the limo and was following Ronald into Euji’s where he and the band had their next gig when the phone rang.
“Hello. This is Kindra,” I said. I hadn’t checked the caller ID. I didn’t think it was work because it was after hours.
“Kindra, it’s Sydney.”
“Oh God Kindra! You have to come back to Twinbrook.” Sydney had clearly been crying and the panic and distress in her voice told me that things were very bad.
“Whoa, Sydney. Calm down. Is it Dad?”
“No,” she said. Then she started crying. I tried to get her to tell me what was wrong, but it took awhile. Finally she managed, “It’s Mina. There was an accident.”
“Ohmygod! What happened? Is Mina ok? Kris? How’s Charlie?” Sydney was crying again and my panic increased. What would I do if Charlie wasn’t ok?
“Kindra. You have to come home. Mina and Kris were in Africa. There was an explosion. They’re gone!”
I was still standing outside of Euji’s and I felt my back hit the wall of the building as my legs almost gave out on me. I began to cry as Sydney tearfully filled me in on the details. Mina and Kris were at a ruins site in Africa where he was working for Doctor’s Without Borders. They were actually just exploring together when the explosion happened. Sydney didn’t know if they’d been attacked or if it was just a fluke accident. The African officials were not saying. Their remains were being flown home in a few days. Calvin was taking care of it.
“What about Charlie?” I asked when I had control of myself again. “Was he with them?” I held my breath for the answer.
“No. He’s been staying with us this time. Africa was too dangerous to take him along.”
I was relieved. Charlie was fine. He was with Sydney.
“We’ll be there as soon as we can,” I said. I would have to tell Ronald and we’d all have to head to Twinbrook. I wasn’t going to miss Mina’s funeral like I had missed my mom’s. I’d just have to face my father…and my son.
Sydney met me at the airport in Twinbrook and then rode with me back to the farm in the limo while Ronald, Alana, and Caleb got settled. We were all staying at Mina and Kris’ house since it was empty. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with that arrangement, but it made sense and I had no real reason to argue with it.
“I need to talk to you about something,” Sydney said to me when we were in the car.
“Is everything ok? Dad doing alright?”
“He’s ok,” she said. “He’s still shaken up over Mom dying and now he’s lost Mina, too. Go easy on him, ok Kindra?”
“I won’t pick a fight,” I promised.
“Good. And there’s one more thing. Charlie.”
“What about Charlie?” I looked nervous. I felt my shoulders tense and I held my breath.
“The lawyers came to see us about Mina’s estate,” Sydney said. “They wanted to tell us what Mina wanted to happen to Charlie if she and Kris could not take care of him.”
“That’s good,” I said, letting out my breath. “She must have named you and Calvin. I’m surprised she didn’t name Sam…” I trailed off as I saw Sydney shaking her head.
“Actually, she named you.”
“Oh god,” I whispered, more shocked than I thought I could ever be, “me?”
“In the will it said you’d understand why she was doing it. She said it would be up to you to explain.” Sydney paused and looked at me questioningly.
“I’m going to be a terrible mother,” I said. “What was she thinking?”
“I don’t think you will be. Mina always knew what she was doing, but what did she mean about you explaining.”
And so I told Sydney everything. I told her about Jack and Charlie and the adoption. I told her that Sam knew about it. I apologized for not telling her but I explained that I hadn’t wanted Dad to know.
“Oh Kindra,” Sydney hugged me as we pulled up to the house. “I think you did the right thing giving Charlie to Mina, but now you’ll have to do what she wanted. Do the right thing again and take care of him.”
“What will he think of me?” I asked. “Maybe he won’t want to stay with me.”
“He’s a lost little boy,” Sydney said. “He needs love and comfort. If you can give him that, he’ll love you.”
I had to put thoughts of Charlie behind me when I came into the house and faced my dad for the first time in years.
“If it isn’t Kindra, the ungrateful girl who wouldn’t even say goodbye to her mother,” Dad lit into me as soon as I walked in the door.
“Hi Dad. Let’s not fight, ok?” I asked wearily. I didn’t want my first minutes back in my house filled with the same yelling and feeling of inadequacy that I had felt when I left.
But Dad couldn’t let things go. He continued, “I’m not trying to fight with you, girl. I am disappointed that you didn’t even love your mother enough to say good bye to her.” He was crying at the end of his sentence and I could feel his pain, but mine was just as great.
“I loved Mom! I loved her so much! But I couldn’t face you. You told me to get out, Dad. You wouldn’t talk to me or acknowledge me. I would have been here for mom, but I thought you’d react just like this and make me feel unwelcome!”
“I should just go,” I turned to leave. Too many emotions were in my head. I hadn’t dealt with Mom’s death and now I was dealing with the loss of my sister and having to take responsibility for my son.
“Wait,” Dad said before I could leave. “Wait. I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to pick on you. I promised your mom that I’d try to make things up. I’m sorry Kindra.”
“I’m sorry, too, Dad. I am not ungrateful. I do love you and mom and everyone else.”
Sometime between all of this Sydney had disappeared outside. Dad led me to the couch and we talked for awhile. He apologized again and asked me about Bridgeport and my job. He actually listened and was proud of my success. For the first time in a long time, I felt good sitting next to him.
“So, now that you’re going to be living here again, will you continue to work?” Dad asked me as I got up to leave. I needed to go to Mina’s house and meet up with Alana, Ronald and Caleb.
“What?” I asked. “Living here? I am not moving back to Twinbrook. What are you talking about?”
“But I thought…” Dad trailed off. “Mina said…”
“Mina said what?” I asked. And that’s when Sydney walked back into the house.
“It was in her will, Kin,” Sydney tried to explain. “Mina made you guardian over Charlie, and she put her house in your name in trust for him.”
“Yeah,” Dad said. “I just assumed you’d want to move back and live there so that her boy can stay near his family in the house that he grew up in.”
I was stunned. Move back to Twinbrook? Live in Mina’s house? Raise Charlie in Twinbrook? I couldn’t process it. My head was spinning.
“I have a job in Bridgeport.” I said finally.
“You don’t have to decide now,” Sydney said.
“You can transfer,” Dad said at the same time.
“I don’t know,” I said. Then I went out and got into my car. I didn’t move as the driver took me down to my dead sister’s house.
That night I told Caleb all about Mina’s will and becoming Charlie’s guardian.
“What should we do?” I asked him after I had explained it all. He was holding me and rubbing my back. I’d been crying off and on, so he handed me a tissue so that I could blow my nose.
“We’ll work something out Kindra,” he said. “It’s not like we have to live here. We can take Charlie to Bridgeport and keep the house in trust until he’s old enough.”
“I know, Caleb, but Dad made a good point about him needing to be surrounded by family while he grieves. He grew up here. He might not want to live in Bridgeport.”
“Well who’s telling us we have to live in Bridgeport? The band can work anywhere. We’re big enough now that most of our work is touring.”
“What about me? What about my job?”
“Couldn’t you transfer back here?” Caleb didn’t understand how hard that would actually be. Yes, I could transfer here, but Jack was still working here. I know that I am Chairman of the Board now, and I’m being considered to replace the company president, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back to the office where Jack worked.
When I didn’t reply right away, Caleb turned to me and said, “You have become so successful, why are you letting him stop you still?”
“How did you know I was thinking of him?”
“I love you. I know you.”
I snuggled into Caleb’s embrace. “I don’t know that I want to see him again…ever,” I said.
“So fire him. You’re the Chairman.”
I laughed. I could fire Jack. He’d sue me for wrongful termination, but I could still do it. I shook my head. “I couldn’t do it, but I could have him transferred…”
“See.” Caleb squeezed my shoulder, “Just send him to Bridgeport.”
“What about Charlie?” I asked hesitantly.
“What about him? We’ll treat him as if he’s our own. You’re his mother. Someday we may end up telling him that, but for right now we’ll just be there for him.”
“What would I do without you?” I asked Caleb and he laughed. “You’d be living the high life in that one room apartment, and you’d never know what it’s like to do this,” he said. Then he kissed me and pulled me under the covers.
We held Mina and Kris’s funeral at their house…Charlie’s house now. Sydney brought him with her and told him that he’d be able to stay in his room again. I don’t think she’d told him that I was now his guardian. He didn’t even know me. I wasn’t sure what he’d think.
Everyone showed up for the funeral except Dad. I asked Melinda about it and she said that he’d collapsed the other night and wasn’t feeling well enough to come. I was worried, but she assured me that ever since Mom had passed on, he’d had problems.
“He just can’t handle the grief,” she said. “He’ll be fine, but it was too much for him to be here.”
“I’ll go see him in the morning,” I said and Melinda nodded. “I know how hard it is to miss the funeral of a loved one.”
It was hardest to see Samantha. She was dressed more somberly than I had ever seen her. We held each other in mutual grief. We’d both lost a sister, but for Samantha it had to be twice as hard because Mina had been her twin.
“I’m so sorry, Sam,” I said. “Mina was too good to die! I don’t know what we’re going to do without her.”
“She’ll watch over us,” Sam said. “Take care of Charlie for her. That’s what Mina would want.”
“I’m going to,” I promised.
Charlie was near me talking to his cousin, Sam’s son Kenny. Sam’s daughters, Emma and Shelby were watching TV. He heard me promise that I’d look after him and looked at me funny. But he didn’t say anything, so I was relieved. I’d try to explain things to him later once everyone was gone.
But I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him until the next morning. When I went to check on him, he was already asleep.