He could smell the fragrant scent as he walked up the walkway to his front door. Matt wondered how many of their neighbors could smell the aromatic spices permeating the neighborhood when Sudah cooked. Every so often Sudah cooked an old American standby because she knew that Matt had certain favorites, but most of her cooking was very ethnic and he had grown fond of many of the Pakistani dishes.
He opened the door to hear Sudah sobbing from the kitchen.
“Baby?” He called out to her.
She came to the kitchen door sniffling and wiping her eyes. “Aden is sleeping.”
He nodded and lowered his voice. “What’s wrong? Is he okay? Are you?”
She stifled a sob and nodded. “Please come into the kitchen and I will tell you.”
“Okay.” He followed her. She stopped by the table and he wrapped his arms around her. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Sudah motioned to an open letter on the table. “I took in our mail from the box…”
He reached for the envelope and noticed the return address. “It’s from your parents. Are they okay?”
“They are in good health.” She squeezed her eyes to keep from crying. “I sent my mother and father a picture of Aden, but my father made my mother return it. He will not recognize our son as his blood.” She leaned against Matt and cried into his shoulder.
The first emotion he experienced was anger. Then he felt bad for his wife’s pain. “I’m sorry baby.”
“How can he not accept a son from his daughter?”
“Because of me…”
She stepped back and looked up at him. “You are a good man and a good husband. I know that he does not approve of our marriage because you are not Muslim, but Aden is my son.”
“Sweetie, you told them that we were raising Aden in my faith, didn’t you? They are probably pretty angry at me.”
She dried her eyes. “We agreed we would raise our children as Christian. And we agreed you and I would remain in our own faiths.”
“And I want our children to understand Islam.”
“I am not sorry for the decisions we have made.” Sudah swallowed and wiped her eyes again. “I have gone against my parents by marrying a non-believer, but I did not betray them as my father has accused.”
“Does your mother feel that way, too?”
“I know she is not happy, but Matt,” Sudah picked up the letter, “I can see her tearstains as she wrote this letter. She did not want to turn away her grandson.”
“I’m sorry. I wish I could make things better.”
“There is nothing to be done.” Sudah stroked his cheek. “I must learn to accept things as they are.”
“I love you Sudah.”
“I love you Matt.”
Matt stared into a cup of black coffee and brooded the next day about Sudah’s parents, the in-laws he would probably never meet. He was sorry that Sudah had so much pain and sorrow, but he wasn’t sorry that he had married her or that they had Aden. She was right, they had many discussions about their religions and they had agreed. It was their decision as parents, no one else’s. Damn it, he thought, why wasn’t being in love enough for some people?
One of the ground crews came in talking about a suicide they had been dispatched too. Unfortunately all they were able to do was pronounce.
Matt was listening with half an ear as they talked about the husband’s devastation. “He said they had just buried her sister the day before, but he never expected her to do something like that.” The woman sat in a car with the engine running in a closed garage.
Hell of a way to go, thought Matt. Sad too about her sister. There’s too much death.
Tones sounded over the speakers and a detached voice spoke. “Chopper one on standby for a GSW victim.” Matt and Tony were joined by Chris, a flight nurse. The trio just got into the bird as they were being dispatched to a member-of-service with a GSW, a gunshot wound. They were on their way to render care to a cop that had been shot in the line of duty.
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