An Angel for Lauryn

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Marlene and I went everywhere together. We were  “Sis” and  “Sissy” to  everybody who knew us. We were inseparable.  Our only differences were that she was  a gorgeous blonde with a killer smile and I was more  of an  average-looking girl, so we were not easily confused  with each other, She always talked of fixing me up  with her brother Tom, who was away in the  navy. She would wave his picture in  front of my face and tease me that he was the guy I should  be with.

Marlene was murdered by her  boyfriend in July 1978, When I heard the news I was so  shocked  I couldn’t  even  think.  I felt as if my right arm had  been cut off. I was the first time in my life anyone so close to  me had been  taken away.

I was all of nineteen. Marlene had just turned twenty in February. I couldn’t stand not being  able to  talk to her , to  ride to work with her, to be with her.  I prayed for her  daily  Soon I met Marlene’s brother Tom, just back  from his  tour in the navy.

I fell head  over heels in love with him  on our first date and  married him three months later.  I knew  Marlene was always with us and I could still feel her presence in everything we did.  We both did. She and Tom had been very close and we talked about her often.

Four years later, we had a  baby girl of our own and  named her Lauryn Marlene. She had my dark hair, but she  had her aunt’s killer smile. When she smiled and laughed, all we  could think of was how much she looked and  acted  like Marlene.

One night when Lauryn was there, I nudged Tom about  2:00 A.M.  and told  him to  listen. I could  hear her talking in her room as if she were speaking to someone.  We looked around the corner of her door, and there  was Lauryn sitting straight up in bed talking and laughing, acting  as if she  were carrying  on a regular  conversation with someone. She saw us looking at her  then and  turned and  said, “Mama, Daddy, what are you doing?”

Tom walked past me into the room  and knelt down by  Lauryn’s bed. I stood  in the  doorway and checked the thermostat  on the wall. It seemed to  be unusually cooler  in her room than in the rest of the  house.  Lauryn, illuminated only by the night-light in her bedroom, looked at her  daddy and matter-of-factly said, “I’m talking to the lady in the corner by my  window.”

Tom looked at her and  then  turned to me,  and I said,  “What?” Tom  looked back at Lauryn and reached for her  little hand. “Really, Bean-Bean, what does she look like, ’cause Mommy and I can’t  see her.”

Lauryn  looked over to the  corner by the window and laughed a little. “They said  they can’t  see you.” She  paused a  minute as if somebody had said something back to her and  then she looked back at us both. “She said you guys are  funny.”

As  calmly as ever,  Tom again asked Lauryn to tell us   what she was seeing.  I just  stood  in the  doorway unable to  speak,  both  scared and fascinated  at the same time.

I knew Lauryn was not  talking  in her  sleep. She was wide  awake,  at ease, and not scared at all. She looked  at her  daddy and smiled. “She  has yellow hair and  it’s short  like  mine.  She’s  wearing a pretty white and pink dress and she’s  very nice. She said  she is  keeping an eye on me.”

Tom pushed her further. ” What’s her name?” I heard  his voice crack and I felt a  tear slide a tear slide down my cheek. We both had a pretty good idea who she was talking to.  Lauryn just looked at her daddy and smiled. “Her name is my Angel.”

I turned  and ran for my bedroom. Was my  daughter seeing a ghost? We had talked about her  Aunt Marlene to her  many times, but the few pictures that I had of  her  aunt I had put away over the past few years because they were still painful for Tom and I both to look at.

I went  to the closet and got them out.  When I came back  to her room, Tom had switched  the light on and was  sitting on the bed with Lauryn. lauryn  said, “My  Angel said she  had to  go for now.” Tom was trying  to get her to settle down and go back to  sleep.

I sat on the  bed next to them and held out a framed  eight-by-ten picture of Marlene.  It was  just a  candid shot  of her  face that I  had  blown up after  she died.  Lauryn  had never seen this  picture.

“Is this your angel, baby?”

She sat  back up a  minute  and smiled, looking at the  picture. “Yep, that is  my angel that’s  keeping  her eye on me. ”

She smiled.

Tom and I just looked  at each other and  he was  smiling. He winked at me. We got her settled  back down, kissed  her  good night, and waited until she  fell asleep  before  leaving  the room.

We  went back to our room together, not saying anything. We  both lay  in bed and couldn’t sleep. We held each  other and were in  awe of the  entire situation. Finally,  in the dark I heard myself asking my husband, “Do you think it  really was Sissy in Lauryn’s room tonight.?”

There was no doubt in his mind whatsoever. “Yep, I know it was .”

I tell Lauryn every  day how  much she looks like her aunt, and I tell Marlene how much  I miss her. I thank Marlene for keeping an eye on Lauryn when I can’t  be there.  She is  the best of both of us  combined.

Caryn M. Suarez

Jacksonville, Florida

 November 1999

 

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