Justin went to the hospital early the next morning to visit Keegan, since Daphne's funeral was at ten o'clock and he couldn't be late for that. He was told by the nurses that Keegan was progressing wonderfully. He was slowly putting on weight from being tube fed and was breathing on his own with no episodes of apnea so far. They were going to try a bottle later that day and see how he did with it.
Justin had brought Harold And The Purple Crayon with him to read to Keegan that morning, which had been one of his favorite books when he was little. As usual, when Justin reached into the opening of the incubator, Keegan had grabbed onto his finger. That always made Justin tear up a little, as if the baby knew that he was his daddy and wanted to be connected to him anytime he was near. After Justin finished reading to his son, he sang his and Daphne's song to the baby.
When Justin finished singing "You're My Best Friend" to Keegan, he told his son that he needed to leave for a little while.
"Your mommy's funeral is today, and I need to go and say goodbye to her for both of us. I'll tell her how beautiful you are and that you love her. Brian and I will come back when we're finished, and maybe I'll get Grandma Jen and Aunt Molly to come with us to see you again. I love you my sweet baby."
Justin left the NICU to meet Brian downstairs. Brian drove them to the funeral home where everyone would be gathered to say their final goodbyes to the bouncy woman that was dearly loved by all of them.
Brian and Justin walked into the viewing room arm-in-arm. The room was filled with flower arrangements and easels holding pictures of Daphne taken throughout her life. "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, one of Daphne's favorite songs, was playing quietly over the sound system.
They slowly walked over to the casket, which was silver with a lavender liner. A spray of purple, pink, and white flowers was sitting on top. Daphne was lying inside the casket wearing a lovely cream-colored dress that Justin remembered picking out with her a couple of years before for her parent's anniversary party. She was also wearing her wedding and engagement rings, plus the diamond and amethyst tennis bracelet with matching earrings her parents bought for her when she graduated from medical school.
Justin looked down at his best friend, and although he hated seeing her in that state he had to admit that she looked very beautiful and at peace. The funeral director had done a wonderful job at concealing the cuts that Daphne had sustained to her face and hands during the accident so they could have an open casket service for her.
Daphne's father and older sister Delia were standing at the head of the casket, and Justin embraced both of them. He assured them that Keegan was doing well and that he would keep them posted on his condition.
Before taking their seats in the audience, Justin looked around to see who all from his and Brian's family was there. Debbie, Carl, Emmett, Drew, Ted, Blake, Ben, Hunter, Hunter's wife Erin, Jennifer, Justin's step-father Robert, Molly, Molly's fiance Shawn, and even Melanie, who Justin was not aware had traveled down from Canada to attend the funeral, were all seated. Noticeably absent was Lindsay, although Justin hadn't really expected either her or Mel to be there.
Also missing from the crowd was Curtis. His parents and a few of their family members were there, however.
After greeting the family and thanking them for coming, Justin told Brian to get them some seats before going over to Curtis's mother Sara.
"Hi, Justin," Sara said sadly.
"Where's Curtis?" Justin asked, foregoing pleasantries.
Sara's face went ashen. "Oh... um, Curtis won't be coming today."
Justin forced himself to remain calm, although he wanted to scream. "What?" he asked just above a whisper. "This is his wife's funeral. Of all people and of all days, he should be here."
"Curtis hasn't been doing well these past few days, as you could imagine," Sara began to explain. "He hasn't left the house and he wouldn't answer the phone or any messages. I had to yell at him through the front door yesterday that I would call the fire department if he didn't let me in before he finally opened the door for me. I've never seen him like this before... it's like he's completely shut down emotionally. He said he couldn't bear to see Daphne in a casket. The same thing happened when my father died back in ‘08, but it's worse this time."
Justin shook his head in disbelief. "Well, while your son has been hiding out at his house for the past three days, the baby that was supposed to have been his and Daphne's son has been lying in an incubator at the hospital. I've been the one keeping vigil over him while also mourning the death of his mother and my best friend of nearly thirty years."
Sara looked down at her shoes. "I know, I went to the hospital yesterday and looked through the window at him. You were in there, but your back was to me. The nurse at the desk told me that only parents and approved visitors can go in to visit, but I wasn't on the list."
"You're only allowed to put four people on the list and I put Brian, my mom, and Daphne's parents. Maybe you can come back to visit after he's moved to the regular nursery, whenever that is," Justin said, although part of him hoped that Sara wouldn't take him up on that offer since he was so angry with Curtis at the moment.
Sara nodded. "Okay, just let me know when."
Justin went to the other side of the aisle to sit between Brian and Jennifer in the fourth row behind Daphne's large family. Nearly every chair was filled by then, and Justin guessed that many of the unfamiliar faces were Daphne's coworkers and colleagues from the medical community. He recognized some of their old high school classmates and a few of Daphne's college friends he had previously met.
Seeing all of the people that were there to honor Daphne's life only incensed Justin further that her own fucking husband had chosen not to attend. He quietly informed Brian and Jennifer that Curtis wasn't going to be there, telling them he would explain later.
Many of Daphne's high school and college friends got up and spoke about how wonderful she was and how much she had meant to them. Daphne's sister Delia told a couple of stories about her vivacious little sister. Debbie talked about how much she admired Daphne's spunk and the fact that she wouldn't let anyone push her around. She commended Daphne for being such a great ally to the LGBT community and Vice President of their local PFLAG chapter.
With Brian's encouragement, Justin went up and told the story of how he and Daphne first became friends.
"When we were in preschool, some of the other kids would pick on me. Daphne saw them and came running over one day like she was going to save the world. She kicked the biggest kid in the leg and yelled at them to get away from me."
Several in the audience chuckled and nodded, since that sounded exactly like the Daphne they knew and loved.
"I had been terrified, since most of those kids were a lot bigger than me. After what Daphne did though, they got scared and ran off. She made sure I was okay, and then said to me that I should stay near her because I looked too delicate to be left alone. That had been the beginning of our lifelong friendship. She was always there when I needed her."
By the time Justin finished his story, many in their family were crying, especially Emmett.
The minister invited everyone to walk by the casket one last time to say goodbye to Daphne before heading to their cars for the procession to the cemetery for the burial. Justin chose to stay seated while everyone else paid their final respects, and Brian stayed by his side. Once everyone but Daphne's father, her two brothers, and a cousin who would all be acting as pallbearers along with Brian and Justin had gone outside, Justin finally approached the casket. He asked to have a minute alone with Daphne, which the others respectfully granted.
"Hey, Daph," he said to her quietly as he covered one of her hands with his. "I just keep hoping that I'll finally wake up and find that this has all been a bad dream, that you're still alive and Keegan is still growing in your belly. This just doesn't feel real. It breaks my heart that you didn't get to see Keegan before you died and you won't be here to watch him grow up... that he'll never know you."
Justin wiped his eyes and decided to cut to the chase, since he didn't have long. "We made a beautiful son together, but of course we knew that he would be beautiful. He's getting stronger every day and I already love him so much. I'll keep my promise, Daph. Brian and I will raise Keegan together, and we'll make sure that he knows what a wonderful person you were and how much you loved and wanted him. We'll put lots of pictures of you in his room so that he'll see what a beautiful mother he had. I promise that I'll love him for the both of us, Daph."
Justin bent down to lightly kiss Daphne's cheek as tears slid down his face. He then whispered a part from their song into her ear: "You're the best friend that I ever had. I've been with you such a long time. You're my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true. I really love you. You're my best friend."
Later that day after Daphne had been laid to rest, Justin headed back to the hospital with Brian, Jennifer, and Molly. When they got up to the NICU, Justin immediately saw that Keegan's incubator was empty.
Justin panicked, grabbing Brian's arm and crying out, "He was fine when I left this morning, Brian! Oh my God, what happened to him? Where is my son?"
Brian found a nurse and demanded, "What the hell happened? Where is Keegan?"
The nurse looked confused for a second before saying, "I'm so sorry. Keegan is fine, he was just moved into the regular nursery. I thought the doctor was going to tell you before he left. I'll take you to see him. You'll be able to hold him now."
She led them down the hall to the nursery where Keegan was laying in an isolette, looking around at his new digs. Gone were all the tubes, IVs, and wires.
Justin broke down crying as he picked up his son for the first time, kissing his soft little forehead and holding him to his chest.
Brian put his arm around his partner, kissing the top of his head. "They probably washed him already, Sunshine. I doubt he needs a shower," he told the drippy-faced blond.
Jennifer and Molly soon joined them, and they each took turns holding the tiny bundle and kissing the top of his head, contributing more happy tears of their own. Justin had warned them that kissing a baby's face could increase the chances of him or her developing whooping cough, so everyone carefully avoided kissing or breathing in Keegan's face.
"Your public service announcements do come in handy from time to time," Brian cracked to his partner who stuck his tongue out at him.