"I'll miss you, Dad. I'll always miss you." Lake said crying while holding the picture of his deceased father.
He hugged the picture and let out heartbreaking sobs. His father died after his bypass operation. Although the specialists already told them that there's a fifty-fifty chance to it, they still expected him to survive.
But faith was playful. He can still remember their conversation before his father was brought inside the operating room.
"Lake, if I don't make it in there, I want you to take care of yourself. Do what your heart tells you. Believe in yourself, honey." Finlay weakly said while the nurses were wheeling him towards the operating room. He was clutching his father’s hand tightly, not wanting to let it go.
He was stopping his father from talking but Finlay continued. "I am so proud of you, Lake. I know all of your achievements." Lake looked at his father in surprise. He had never told a soul about his awards and achievements.
Finlay let out a weak laugh. "I wished you had told me. But I respect your decision in hiding it from us. You don't expect me not to discover it, do you? I am your father after all. And you are my son."
"I may not be there with you, Lottie, and your mom physically, but spiritually, I'll be there every step of the way." Finlay's voice was shaking when he said that. "Continue with your passion, Lake. Continue your art. I love you, my firstborn."
Lake nodded. And with tears in his eyes, he kissed him on the forehead, believing that his father was going to survive.
(End of Flashback)
All throughout the operation, Lake and Lottie were in a chapel somewhere inside the hospital. When their father was rolled out from the operating room, he was unconscious. Then after exactly ten minutes, he was gone. Just like that.
The doctors said that there had been a complication. Lake zoned out from the doctor’s explanation. There's only one thing that is ringing in his mind and ear: His father was gone.. gone forever.
And just earlier, his father was buried in the cemetery. That was the hardest part Lake had ever done: To say goodbye to the person who had always been there for him from the beginning.. to the only person who had loved him completely. To the only person who believed in him.
He would never see him walk out the door again. He would never hear his voice again. He would never see him smile again.
Gosh, he would never see his father again.. ever.
A month later..
"You know what, Dad? There's someone who is interested to see my paintings." Lake is currently at the cemetery, in front of his father's resting ground. "Remember Jade, the girl who saw my works back in college? We accidentally bumped into each other again after two years. She was actually looking for me. She said that his brother-in-law, Renji Kimura, was looking for new talents to feature in his exhibit."
Lake was so excited while telling that to his father. He immediately went to the cemetery to tell his father the good news.
"Can you believe it, Dad? That's the Renji Kimura. The world's most famous painter."
His eyes were shining. It's the first time, after his father died, that he felt this alive again.
"Though he will still look and judge my works, at least, I have a chance Dad, right?"
He had a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy. He also had his MBA from Harvard. He would like to take Fine Arts as his course but of course, his mother did not allow him. She said that there is no money in that profession.
And just like all the other times, his mother won again. So Lake took up the course that she wanted, but unbeknown to her, Lake's spare time was spent in an art class. That's why his talent in painting was enhanced further.
It was only his dad who knew that he was enrolled in an art class while taking up Administration. Finlay gave him his full support.
"It has never been the same without you, Dad. I miss you so much." Lake was unable to stop his tears.
It was almost ten p.m. when he reached home from the cemetery. It was Saturday and he did not expect the traffic.
He had his own key to the front door of their house so he doesn't need to knock or use the doorbell. He also will not be scolded by his mother because she's surely asleep by now.
Lake grumbled about how he can't even drive his car fast enough. He just said that in the spur of the moment, but he really loved his car as much as he loved his old stuffed toy named 'Mr. Ted'. The money he used to pay for it came from his own pocket.
He was about to finish college when it was offered to him by a classmate who is about to buy a new car. The money he paid for the car came from his savings. It came from the allowances that he saved and a big percentage of it was from the prize when his painting had won first place in a competition that he'd joined.
It was not the latest car model and the car seldom give up in the middle of the road, but Lake loved the car. His car.
That car was really his in every sense of the word. And he was very proud of it.
His father wants to buy him a new car but Lake refused. He doesn't mind that the car Lottie uses was more beautiful than his.
Lottie's car was a gift from their parents.
All right, he admits, he was a little bit jealous. But that was before. Besides, Lottie deserved it. She worked hard for it.
Though Lake's grades were far higher than Lottie's and the highest in his school, he never showed his report card to his parents. He was consistently the top student in the class and had won a lot of academic competitions. He doesn't want any complications so he chose to study in a different school from Lottie.
He was proud of himself and it was a great achievement for him, but he never once boasted about it to anyone. He was still shy and humble. Still afraid to speak because his mother always compares him to Lottie- how different he was to his sister.. how sensible Lottie was, unlike him. The list would go on and on. Even though his mother doesn't know anything about his school life.
Lake sighed when he stopped his car in front of their house. Until now, he's still afraid of his mother- big time. He hasn't done anything right in his mother's eyes.
A part of him wanted to blame his mother for why he grew up weak and aloof towards other people. It had been a long time before his stuttering disappeared due to inferiority complex.
Now he knows that his stuttering was psychological. He stutters when he is in front of other people, especially when it is his mother. Because most of the time, she shouts at him. She scolds him even about the smallest of things.
His father even brought him to a specialist but the doctor saw nothing wrong with him. So he just said that there really are kids who develop speech late.
Even he was confused before. When he is alone, he can speak properly and well. But when someone is in front of him, he stutters. He feels like he will say the wrong words and that his mother will hit him because of it.
He was only glad that it was a thing of the past now.
He couldn't say that he was confident now. He's still afraid that he will do something that he likes and his mother will dislike it. When his father was still alive, it's easy for him to follow what his heart desires because his father was always there to guide and support him.
He became so dependent on his father that when his father died, he doesn't know where to start with his life.
A while ago, he was so excited because he will finally have a chance to showcase his paintings. His worries were overpowered by his excitement.
But now that he was back in their house, he was eaten again by worry.
His thoughts were stopped by the cool air that grazed his skin.
He shivered. He raised his hand to put the key in the keyhole. But he was surprised when the door suddenly opened.
Lake automatically closed his eyes tightly. He was sure it was his mother.
He prepared himself for the angry voice of his mom. But he heard nothing. Confusedly and reluctantly, he slowly opened his left eye, followed by his right eye when he recognized who the person in front of him is.
Nothing in the world had prepared him for this moment.