Warning: It’s really lengthy.
The gathering was to be attended only by friends and family. As Hailey rose to fame, gaining a lot of attention and supporters when people heard the heartbreaking story of how she lost her voice (the timing could not be worse), two funereal gatherings had to be organized for the ones who actually knew her when she was alive to mourn in peace. Therefore, there weren’t a lot of people at the cemetery.
Of course, her husband, Reginald, had to arrive on a wheelchair with the help of Candy who, initially his late daughter’s best friend, had to experience the death of another person to whom she was very close. Although she wouldn’t dare say it out loud, she agreed with Reggie that she expected him to be the first one to pass away with the 25 years age gap between him and his wife. The two of them quietly blamed themselves for not taking action earlier when Hailey started showing first signs of illness, for maybe if the treatment had begun earlier, they wouldn’t be standing there now, dressed in black and mourning the loss of her. Maybe it would all turn out a different way. Now it was too late for what if’s. However hard it was to admit, Hailey lost her battle with cancer and her life was the price.
Just behind them, Sharicka was sitting, lost in thought. She felt horrible for how things had turned out. Not long ago, she recalled, I was planning to give this woman grandchildren. I imagined my life together with Ron and never have I taken into account that these visions might never come to life. The young woman held back tears as she tried not to look to where Ron was sitting – thankfully, she thought, it’s far enough from me. She believed her life was going well, and that she managed to forget him. That is, until she saw him again in real life, and it took her breath away. But, she went on, playing with the engagement ring on her finger, first loves never work out, they just never do. Now, what was the story of her mother? Out of all things, what Shari feared most was the possibility of being walked out on, being left out like her mother was by her father. What she wanted most was for her future children to grow up in a full, loving household. Oh, how she hated the confusion. How she sympathized with Clint. How she wished she had had a proper home with a mom and a dad who were her biological parents. Somehow, Shari managed to forget what this celebration was all about, having drowned in her own worries and anxiety, and fear of having made wrong decisions with no turning back.
Ron and Clint arrived in Storybrook County as soon as possible, to celebrate the memory of their mother. Of course, Hailey meant something very different to each of them. For Ron, she had been a mother figure all his life, but for Clint, she was never more than just his best friend’s mother, or for a long time, a woman she hoped would become his step-mom when he married Becca. Ron was absolutely crushed having heard the news and felt horrible for not being there with his mother while she was on her deathbad, while Clint felt sorry for not getting to know her better, having found out she was his mother after years of believing he’d never meet the woman who gave birth to him. Both men were very shocked and disappointed when Becca told them she wasn’t going to take part in the celebration in fear of being recognized. Ron told her how he believed she didn’t have her priorities right and that she would regret it later. Clint was finding the picture of her he’d been carefully forming in his head for many years had its edges more and more torn each day. She wasn’t all what he expected her to be, blinded by his feelings.
Neither of them were aware of the silent presence of a certain young woman dressed in a black sweater with a matching pencil skirt, with strands of red hair coming out of the hood protecting her head from the cold and preventing her from being recognized. After all, Becca was not so bad a daughter as it’d seem she was…
Even Hailey’s three best friends from high school found some time in their busy schedules to attend the celebration. While one might question their motives for showing up (after all, it was a pretty close event for mourning the death of a famous star), what was important was that Clara, Monica and Diana were there.
But, while the other two brought their husbands along, Diana was sitting there without a shoulder to cry on. And she was the first one to pay attention to a particular middle-aged man who, having hugged his husband for good luck, headed for the scene to deliver a speech to all the people that have gathered for this special occasion. When she saw him, Diana’s heart skipped a beat. To her, he was more than just an acquaintance from school, he was an idol. Someone she needed most when she questioned her identity and couldn’t reach the peace of mind, who helped her with the questions building up in her head for the most of her life. It was Frank that made her feel that not everyone had to have a significant other and that Diana could be truly happy being aromantic. For that, she couldn’t thank him enough.
Frank positioned himself in front of the microphone. Somehow, he felt more stressed than usual in such situations. He was used to giving speeches and performing. As an activist, he often took part in various interviews and TV shows, and as an advocate, he protected his clients in court. No, speaking in public was not anything new to Frank; and yet when he got to this stage, for a split second he felt again like that shy little boy who was always terrified of giving presentations at school. This was different. This time he was going to talk about the person who had been a constant in his life for many years, ever since attending high school, which, to Frank, felt an eternity ago.
“Good afternoon,” he said, his voice showing no sign of the stress he was feeling. “My name is Frank and today I’m going to talk to you about a person who I had known ever since primary school and who had been my friend for more than a half of my life. A person whose determination led her to achieving her dreams and touching the hearts of many listeners from across the world. You know who I am talking about. All of you that have gathered here knew her very well. She was your friend, wife, mother, or maybe even this annoying boyfriend’s friend who always got in the way, but you knew you liked her anyway.”
At that moment he smiled at his husband. He had been rehearsing this at home and it led them to having a good walk down memory lane during which tears were shed. “Her name was Hailey Nathifa Rosenthal, later Calloway, but for the most part I’ve always called her just Hannah. A name she gave herself back in diapers and by which she was called at home. Little did we know back then that she’d rise to be a much bigger star than the other well-known Hannah.” He made a pause for effect and scanned the faces of the audience.
He noticed they were already engrossed in his speech and waiting for more, so, with emotion in his voice, he continued.
“We met in the school choir when we were both just little kids. I was the only boy in the whole choir, of course, so I didn’t have much support. She had her friends as a back-up. And I hope it will not come off as an offense to the ladies who have joined us today if I say that Hannah has always been exceptional and she always rose above the others. She just drew people in with her cheerful, bubbly self. Not only that but she was also very hard-working, having attended music school at a very young age. I will be honest here and admit I didn’t have that much insight into her life after I was forced to leave the choir. The next big event happened in high school.” He cut it short again, looking at his three classmates. They all knew what was coming. Frank’s eyes met Diana’s and he noticed how tense she looked.
He remembered her to be the one to ask Hailey why she hadn’t told him about their ‘relationship’.
“Well,” he then continued. “Some of you probably know this story as witnesses of the act – I sincerely apologize for my job coming off here – but for those of you who are not aware – I’m gay. And Hannah was the one who had done wonders for me in high school by protecting me from the bullies.
Until this day I wonder how I’d have made it through high school if she hadn’t kissed me that day, pretending to be my girlfriend. I have to admit – it was quite an unconventional way of solving issues, but if you knew Hailey, you would know that’s exactly what she was like – unpredictable, unconventional and completely free. But when you did have her on your side, she could be this precious friend that would always stand up for you. And I always loved her for this.” At this point Frank made another pause to take a sip of water, and then continued.
“However, I admit things were not all roses between us, not always. Still, it’s not healthy to think back to bad events in your life. They happen, we learn from them, but that’s all. What I still remember is how we reunited with Hailey. It was in this pretty red café back in Twinbrook – I don’t even know if it still exists.”
“Hannah, I, too, am moving out to Starlight Shores. For my law studies.” He says to my complete amazement.
“It’s so stupid, but it almost seems like fate wants our team back together!” I enthuse, immediately wanting to slap myself for moving on too fast.
“That day, she said a very memorable sentence, I think it went on like this: It seems like fate wants our team back together! I would often come back to these words in my head and think of how funny life turned out for us. Because from that day on, we became a team for good.” Frank smiled at the small crowd, as he thought back to these old days. It was hard for him to imagine the life before knowing Waylon now. And yet it existed. When he spoke again, he barely had control over his voice which was breaking due to the emotions he was feeling and a thousand imaginary knots tightening around his throat.
As we get inside, Frank eventually takes his step-brother from my arms and hugs him tightly. So much of apparent affection is visible on his face that I only get even more convinced that I made the right decision when I wrote his name as the father on the birth certificate. He deserves it for all the good and support he has shown me.
“Not long after we had moved to Starlight Shores together, Hannah gave me a wonderful son who I am very proud to have. He might not be biologically mine, but these ties mean nothing in comparison to the real ties made with love. Clinton was a very special gift from Hannah and I will always remember that day when she gave birth to him. It was also the day on which I announced my engagement to Waylon. Then, Hannah was also a guest at my wedding. It was important for me to have both my mom and her present on that special day and it meant a lot to me that they did not argue even though their relationship was very tense.” Frank looked at his son and saw that Clinton tried and failed to hold back tears as Frank confessed the love he had for him.
He was also very touched by the memories of his wedding and little Clint in the arms of his mother. He grew up so fast.
“It did not take long for Hannah to marry the man of her dreams. What she wanted, she always had and, even if I admit to having experienced some doubts about her marrying such a famous person as Reginald Calloway and if she would get him to agree, I was a witness during her wedding. I’d then never get to see her happier than she was that day. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I said she was glowing.” Reggie did not cry, but it was obvious he was very touched when Frank mentioned his second wedding he’d never thought would happen.
He didn’t glance up but moved uncomfortably when Frank mentioned the wedding. Ace and Clara looked at one another, remembering they met at Hailey’s wedding for the first time.
“Although after Hannah tied the knot, we didn’t spend nearly as much time with one another as we used to, I remember when she once, freaking out about whether she’d be a good mother to the twins she was carrying or not, asked me to leave Clint with her. That was the one and only time I lied to my husband about anything. I remember how very pregnant she was that day when I gave her Clint to take care of.” At that moment Frank reached out and stroked the scar on his face which was now so faded it was almost invisible from the distance.
“That’s a reminder of that time. Really old story but from what I was told – I don’t remember much because I was very weak after losing a lot of blood – Hailey had a premature labor because of the fright that I caused her. Thankfully, the twins made it or maybe I’d feel guilty for the rest of my life.”
Frank looked at Ron with a slight smile.
“It soon turned out that Hannah didn’t have to worry because she was a wonderful mother to her twins and partly also to Clint, who used to play a lot with them. It was right when I founded my organization, GMH, 11 years ago that we had the children acquainted. Ron and Clint’s friendship is still strong after all these years, which makes me very happy, as it, in a way, feels like a continuation of my and Hannah’s friendship now that she’s no longer with us.” Frank cut for a moment, then continued,
“The last year had been especially hard for Hannah, as she was diagnosed with cancer and began her treatment by having a surgery performed that made it difficult, or even practically impossible, for her to speak – and what was much more important for her – to sing. I watched her go from that happy singer who loved life to a shadow of a person she once was. It is safe to say that during her last days Hannah was no longer happy and that is why I hope she is happy now, wherever she is now, and that this afterlife gave her the chance to sing again with no limits and no barriers that exist in our imperfect world…
Rest in peace, Hannah.”
Frank’s speech had everyone in tears, as it brought to life the long-buried memories of her. To everyone in the audience Hailey meant something different, but everyone agreed that Hannah was special and that she would be remembered not only through her songs but also for the person she was. And although Frank wasn’t the only one to share his memories that day, he was the one who touched the most hearts – even Reggie’s, her husband’s, speech wasn’t as touching as what her best friend had to say. For many years later when those who attended recalled that day, it was Frank’s speech that came to their minds for it was just so genuine and beautiful in its simplicity.
Goodbye, Hailey. You will be remembered.
Note: I was super excited to have come back to Frank and I do hope it turned out well. And please excuse the pictures if they don’t load properly. I’m having issues again and I stayed up again to finish it off… Hopefully, you enjoyed it. And… two days after uploading this I finally managed to reupload the pictures and get them to the normal big resolution, thankfully.