I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNTIE YONNY: WHO WILL MOURN FOR CAESAR?
The coming week proved to be extremely busy and challenging for Hal. He spent as much time as he possibly could with Tanya, which seemed to give her the strength to hold on longer. She didn’t want to talk about Miriam anymore. Her eyes always teared up and she became silent whenever her name was mentioned.
She clung to Hal as if using him to fill that void left by her niece. Hal understood and he didn’t mind. It pained him to see her reaction of sadness when he was called to another meeting. Business matters never ended, thus, Hal knew that there were an endless series of meetings ahead of him. He could not help but wonder what else lied ahead. His grandfather always said that God had good things in store for His children who loved and obeyed Him. With some guilt, he began to question if that applied to him.
Yes, there was meeting after meeting, in which Hal was expected to absorb the basic functioning and status of Miriam’s various businesses. Walking into a room of all white executives, he was consciously aware of his difference and the lack of racial diversity throughout the Barrett-Graves Empire. It was something that he could not tolerate, but, for now, he would have to live with.
From the dead silence that occurred when he entered a room, he could guess the impact of his becoming the owner of the businesses some of them had spent most of their lives helping to build. He couldn’t help but wonder if he had been the topic of discussion before he entered the room and if part of that discussion was the color of his skin. Would they respect him, he wondered? Would there be plotting against him? Could any of them be responsible for Arturo and Miriam’s death and the attempt on Tanya’s life?
The meetings were long and awkward. Anytime Hal interrupted or asked a question, they would all stare at him as if to say, “What makes you think you have any say in this?”
Various business attorneys, whom he didn’t know, had been assigned to help with the transition and accompanied him to each meeting. However, there was no escaping his feeling that he had been transported into another body, living the life of someone else. He was thankful for Darla. There was some comfort in having Darla beside him taking copious notes and helping to steer him in the right direction whenever he didn’t know what to do or say. At least he knew someone and Darla appeared to be on his side, willing to help in any way.
After the last meeting planned for the week, he felt overwhelmed. This last meeting had been a tough one, where he could clearly see that he had some opponents wanting to edge him out of discussions and probably wanting to get rid of him completely. He could see that he had numerous battles ahead of him and right now, he had no idea how to fight them, who was on his side, if anybody, and if he would survive. Remembering that he would have to add to all of this and go through the same routine when Tanya passed away, left him panic stricken. He felt it all was just too much for him to handle that day.
When he returned to the hospital, his emotions were running high and got the best of him. He went directly to Tanya’s room, sat down and cried silent tears. Tanya appeared to be asleep, but, the hearing that everyone claimed was failing, seemed to hone in on Hal’s suffering.
“Hal? Hal? What’s wrong? Did something happen? Are you alright?”
It took Hal a moment or two to pull himself together and answer Tanya.
“Did something happen?”
“No, I’m just upset.”
“Why, Hal? What happened?”
Struggling for words to express what he was feeling inside, Hal became increasingly frustrated.
“Au…Aunt Tanya…I…I…I want to know…”
He was feeling more like a victim instead of the newly appointed heir to an empire. He was holding a lot of feelings tightly within him. He felt that there was no one who could possible understand what he was going through. As a victim, someone was to blame and since Willard Graves was dead, he had to take his frustrations out on someone else whom he thought shared in the blame. Holding on to his grudge against the Graves family, he began to make his case.
“I want to know why your…why YOU did this to me?”
“Did this…? I don’t understand, Hal? What did I do? What is this all about?”
Trying to calm himself, he swallowed to clear his throat, took a deep breath and wiped his nose.
“Why did you leave me and my family alone for all these years, watching us struggle, then put me in this position, where I feel like I don’t belong?”
Tanya was silent for a while. Then, Hal saw tears begin to seep from her eyes exposing the pain and turmoil she had carried for so many years, for her actions and the circumstances surrounding his family.
“Hal, you and your family had more than I could ever have within my family. You had genuine, godly, unconditional love; love free of doubt, unattached to money and corruption. You had all that I ever wanted.
What we had wasn’t worth having. It didn’t make us better people or a stronger and more loving family. Our family was built upon hatred, greed and lies. We lied to ourselves. We lied to one another and we lied to everybody else. Not only did I not want you to be a part of that, but, I couldn’t protect you from it or from them.
I left you to be raised with love, respect and dignity. Loving people like you should and learning to love God.
Yes, I knew about your family for some time, but, I could have never given you what your family gave you. All the money in the world can’t buy that.
Now, I’m finally able to accept what I did. I see that it was the right decision to make. I see who you are and what you have become. Yes, staying away and not revealing the existence of your family was something I struggled with, but, it was the right thing to do. Now, maybe we have a chance.”
Tanya stopped and clenched her blankets trying not to fall apart emotionally.
“What do you mean, now, maybe we have a chance?”
“Now, maybe my family has a chance to be what it should be and do what is right in God’s eyes.”
Tanya’s hands began to shake. Hal placed his hand on top of hers and grasped them tightly to steady them.
“I understand why you did what you did, Aunt Tanya, but, you can’t make things happen the way that you want them to happen. That’s what your family has been guilty of doing from the start. That’s why they were so corrupt! They used any means possible to turn things in their favor, regardless of the consequences or harm to others.
Your family…your family…I guess I better start owning up to the fact that it’s my family, too.
I know that you considered the repercussions of putting a Black man in charge of part of the Graves family businesses and the impact it would have…but…but…Did it cross your mind that…? Did you give any thought to how it would affect ME and what I would have to go through?
This week has been…it’s been…it’s been…nothing but HELL for me. You should have seen the looks on the faces of some of those people and…and…and the way they TREATED ME. I haven’t experienced that kind of blatant and apparent racism in a long time.
Any other time…in most of my jobs…I’m confident. I know I can do the job. I know who Hal Siegfried is. I know that I deserve to be there, but…”
Tanya began to weep more profusely. Her eyes were squeezed tightly shut as her lips quivered and her hands trembled.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Tanya. I don’t mean to upset you, but…listen. I’m sorry. I’ve just had a really horrendous week and I’m tired. I need to unwind and relax, but, I’m afraid to.”
Tanya placed her hand on top of Hal’s and strained to open her eyes.
“You are my hero. You saved my life. I have seen your strength, your intelligence…your tenacity. NO! YOU, HAL, SIEGFRIED ARE NOT AFRAID! Fear makes you weak! Everything that I see within you proves that God has made you strong…tough…compassionate and taught you not to fear, because fear is not of God!
I know about your grandfather and your grandmother, my niece. They were survivors and godly people. What God allowed to happen, His mixing of our two family’s genes together, was for a reason. Somehow, I always knew that and that’s why I couldn’t let it go. Yes, there was irony in it and some vengeance, but, God always has a plan.
Perhaps, I was part of the plan and that’s why it was so important to God for me to know about you and where you were. Maybe He knew that I was going to do everything within my power to make sure nothing happened to you and your family. I’m sorry about your mother, but, from what I understood, there was no way for her to survive the cancer that had already spread throughout her body.”
Hal took Tanya’s hands into his and looked at her very seriously.
“I understand, Aunt Tanya, but, my only chance of surviving now is for you to tell me what we’re up against.”
“We’re up against the world, Hal. We’re up against the world.
There were many conceived and failed plots to assassinate my father, but, only two of great significance; the one by the republicans, who conspired with world leaders and the one by my brothers and my husband.”
Tanya turned her head away in shame.
“So, that explains the factions within the family. Those plots were never uncovered or made public. Derek Graves definitely doesn’t want the world to know about me or what his father did and uncovering allies who broke the agreement not to assassinate leaders of nations could upset world politics.”
“It wasn’t just allies such as state actors, Hal.”
“Who else? Our enemies?”
“No, our most dangerous and vulnerable ally, the Vatican.”
After a moment, Hal realized that he was holding his breath in disbelief. He inhaled deeply and thought about the weight, depth and gravity of the situation Tanya had just revealed to him. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Vatican? The Pope? Surely, such a thing couldn’t be true.
There must have been something monumentally wrong going on in the world for something like that to happen. Then, he had to come to his senses and accept the facts. Something monumentally wrong was happening in the world at that time. President Graves was leading the nation into a second civil war and the world into World War III, believing he and Putin would come out on top because of the alliances they had made and the business opportunities they had arranged behind closed doors.
“But, wait a minute, without proof, it’s just hearsay…”
“There is proof, Hal.”
“Really, where? Who has it?”
“You do, Hal.”
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”
By William Shakespeare
(from Julius Caesar, spoken by Marc Antony)
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.