“You either own your mistakes, or your mistakes own you.”
You are almost five years old. We are walking through a shopping mall, one we come to every Wednesday night.
“We can pretend while we are here, if you’d like.”
“We can pretend that this is a spaceship. These ceilings above us just slide back, and we can see the stars.”
“Are we going to Mars?”
“Yes, when you pretend, you can go anywhere you want.”
“…You can keep moving forward. When you do that, you may suddenly find yourself in a better place. But better places hardly ever come to us, we have to move forward to get there.”
There’s a message from you on my phone at lunchtime. I know you’re not working.
I also know you’re almost certainly still using.
Because you found a way, years ago, to take the ceilings off. To go to Mars. At least in your head.
I’m fifty-seven years old; you’re twenty-four now. In the six years since you left high school, you’ve given up almost everything and everyone you really loved to chase Mars.
And I had gotten tired, exhausted, from trying to carry someone who didn’t seem to want to move, forward or otherwise. So you left town to live with friends.
But I hear from you, ever so often, at lunchtime.
“Hey. What’s up?”
“Have you been watching G-1 Climax this year?”
“No, I haven’t. How has it been?”
“Amazing. I had forgotten watching WWE how good wrestling can actually be when the performers just do it.”
“I’ll have to check that out.”
“Yeah, well I know you’re at work, but I just wanted to call sometime when I wasn’t asking for anything. Love you, Dad.”
“I love you, too.”
In my dreams, I’m still holding your hand, walking through a combination spaceship / shopping mall. I’m still trying, with everything I have, to make you see that you have what it takes to face life, to enjoy it, to thrive.
To show you that you can get rid of the ceilings that block out your real stars.
But, when I wake up, all I really have left is to love you.
Because nothing else has helped at all.