I watch children playing as I sit on the bench waiting for my father to come. He texted me this morning to meet him here, in the park where he used to take me to when we used to be a normal family.
A hand on my shoulder forces me to tear my gaze away from the happy faces of the children and lift my face to look at my father.
If he is nervous, he is not showing.
However, I do notice he looks different but what it is I can't put my finger on.
"I am sorry to keep you waiting." He gives me a small smile and takes a seat beside me.
"It is okay, I am used to it." I can't keep the sarcasm away from my tone.
His smile turns into forced, and somewhere I feel bad.
"How are you?" I sigh and ask.
"Now I am good." He smiles looking at me, "After meeting you."
"What's going on?" I ask directly, "Nathan, my friend, he saw you at the hospital. Are you okay?"
"So, you are worried about me?" He raises his eyebrows.
"I am not like you, who never hardly cared about me." I scoff.
"I deserve this." He sighs, pain evident in his voice, "After all, I did with you, I deserve your hatred."
"I don't hate you." I shake my head, "You have just let me down as a father." I admit honestly.
Along with mother, a father is the most important person in a child's life. If a mother unconditionally loves you, then the father is someone who protects you from the harshness of the world. He is someone who can make everything better by silently keeping his hand on your back and letting you know that he is there for you.
"You were never there for me when I needed you." I swallow while running my hand through my hair.
My heart clenches as I remember all those moments when I needed my father to be with me. When I needed that reassuring pat on my back, which says everything will be alright and you don't have to worry about anything as I am with you.
It hurts that I know my father is alive, but he doesn't exist in my life during all those years.
"Then why are you here?" He questions while his eyes hold regret and pain.
"Because I will not let you down as a son." I look directly at him, meeting his shocked yet relieved eyes, "If you will need me, I will be there for you because I can't abandon you as you had abandoned me."
"So, now tell me what's wrong?" I ask gently because I can see the troubled look in his eyes and I don't like seeing him worried at all.
He must have hurt me, but this doesn't mean I would feel happy to see him worried.
"I want to give up alcohol completely." He swallows, and now it is my turn to be shocked, "I have been sober for two months, but sometimes the urge to drink is too strong."
As far as I remember he always turned to alcohol when things got tough. Even whenever mom and he had any fights it was due to his drinking habits. When Katie died, he completely lost himself in the bottle of alcohol. I remember seeing him drunken to the point where he couldn't even open the damn bottle himself.
"I am trying but sometimes, I feel like giving in to the addiction." He rubs his neck nervously, "I have even joined the AA group because I don't want to return to my former self which has taken everything from me."
I felt relieved and somewhat happy to know that he is trying to be better.
"I am even going for therapy because I am struggling..." His voice quietens.
"I want to be better for you, Miles." He looks at me with tear-filled eyes, "I know can't turn back the time, and be the father that you deserved. Even though it is late, but I want to take a step in the right direction. I want to correct my mistakes because I want you back in my life. I have no one left to call mine, except you and I will do everything which I can to prove to you that I have changed."
I swallow back my own tears, as I look at the person in front of me who looks more like the father that I knew... not the one who had left me... not the one who drowned himself in alcohol that he could even remember my name. But my dad, who loved me.
"Please help me, son." He opens his palms in front of me, as he begs, "I need my son to help me to pull away from this darkness... please..."
Without thinking about anything once, I wrap my arms around him, as he breaks into tears in front of me while my own tears streaming down from my eyes.
"I will help you, Dad." I whisper, closing my eyes, "Together we will defeat this darkness, that ruined our lives."
When I returned home, surprisingly, I feel so much better. I haven't felt this much better in years. It just feels like an invisible weight that was crushing my chest is no longer present.