They both sat quietly sipping their cups of latte. They were staring at the large portrait hanging on the wall. Guys in suits and bow ties while in the middle stood a girl, tip toeing with her arms around the two guys next to her. She was laughing while everyone was smiling at the camera.
The old man pointed at the portrait. “Do you miss the both of them?” he asked.
“Yes I do. When you fly home, please put a bouquet of Ranunculus on his grave. He knows it’s from me because they’re my favorite flowers.”
The old man agreed. The portrait that they were looking at was taken by the old man himself. She remembered him yelling ‘Okay! Group picture!!’ loudly. Now, his hair is graying from the last time she saw him and the veins on his hands are more visible because he was aging. He cleared his throat before he spoke.
“I don’t know how his father dealt with him passing away,” he was talking about the guy in portrait that was standing on the girl’s left with her left arm over his shoulder.
The man continued. “Even until now, it’s sometimes hard for my wife and I to visit his grave because a disease didn’t take him away but a crash did. But I guess when you lose your child to death, you have to be the stronger one so your wife doesn’t see you get sad.” Now, he was talking about the guy that was on the girl’s right with her right arm over his shoulder.
She looked at him and she could tell how much he misses the guy standing in the portrait, smiling with dimples. She sat quietly and sipped more of her latte from the paper cup. A moment past and the man broke the silence again.
“If he was here, he’ll be amazed on how much you’ve grown. Now you have longer hair and you wear lipstick,” he said. He smiled at her and she could see that there were signs of wrinkles on his face. He continued on. “Thank you for saving my son when he needed you back then. He was suicidal and you helped him get out of it. He was studying to be a surgeon because he told me ‘daddy, my best friend saved my life so I’m going to save more lives’. He always spoke about you to me and the three of you were inseparable. I’m sorry that death took your guy best friends away from you and when I pray, I pray for you too. I tell God to give your strength through everything.”
He paused for a moment and looked at her. Her eyes were red and teary. “Hey don’t cry” he told her. “Uncle bought you chai latte because I can only imagine how much you miss him. He used to tell me this when he told me about you. He said ‘Dad, some day, a man is going to love her the proper way. Not like all the other guys who have broken her heart and made her cry. She’ll bring him to meet all of us. He’s going to bring her flowers, serenade to her with a guitar, slow dance with her, he’ll tell her how much she means to him and he’s going to make sure she’ll never be insecure. No doubts, no over-thinking and no regrets or second thoughts. If he’s not the person she wants, he’ll change. He’ll probably stop smoking just for her or he’ll probably get a good job where she’ll know he’s stable. Take her to concerts too! He’ll tell everyone about her. He’ll remind her that she’s always loved no matter what. He’s going to go all out for her because she deserves person like that. My best friend deserves a man who knows what true love really is and not only in the sexual context. If I died dad, I just hope that she’ll never get her heart broken again.’ He told me that when I asked him why you were crying.” he smiled, remembering that moment.
She smiled, imaging how her best friend told his dad. “That’s your son, uncle” she laughed a little.
He nodded and laughed. “Yes, that’s my son, alright. But look at you now. An independent lady, chasing your degree and someone that my late son will always be proud of,” he smiled. “So on his behalf, I’m going to give you a little life advice because uncle have been living more than half of my life now. There will always be people hating you no matter what and no matter where you go so you must never let them control who you are especially your life. You’re much better than them. A man will respect his woman by encouraging her to chase her dreams and he’ll stand by her side through the worst times and the best times because that is what true love is. Don’t ever stop being the strong fighter that my son is proud of.”
They smiled at each other. “I’ll remember that, uncle. Here’s to your son and my best friend. May he forever rest in peace”, she said and clinked her paper cup of chai latte that is stained with her lipstick against the old man’s cup.