Peter Pan tugged at my hand, urging me forward, but I couldn't follow him. I was strapped in to my wheelchair seat. "I can't go with you, Peter. I can't walk, you see." Stupid wheelchair, stupid disability, always holding me back, I thought angrily and fought back more tears.
But he laughed and shook his head. "What does walking have to do with any of it? We're going to fly." And with that, he unbuckled my seat belt and lifted me in his arms like I weighed nothing. Gravity didn't seem to have the least effect on him. He carried me as he flew through the open door and up, up, high up above the neighborhood. "You can't walk because you can't bear weight. But up here, that's no longer a problem. The wind will bear it for you!"
He sprinkled some pixie dust and held me by both hands. We danced among the stars, a beautiful effortless waltz, like we had both been doing this our whole lives. With him I felt strong and beautiful and fearless again, like nothing could hurt me and even death would be an awfully big adventure. We didn't go to Neverland. I'm all grown up now, so I can't go there anymore, but Peter said he had something even better in mind.
Hand in hand, we flew over the town, across the Midwest, over mountains, through the South, and up the west coast. We stopped at windows of the houses of my favorite people along the way, to wave and laugh and give hugs and kisses - Peter had a whole pocketful. We had snowball fights in the Rockies, then warmed ourselves over the hot springs in Montana. We had a water war in Lake Michigan and played hopscotch in the Outer Banks. We found a tornado in Kansas to swirl around in until we were dizzy, and balanced on the top of the Empire State Building as we looked down on all the glittering lights of the City.
During all this time, we didn't really talk - we just laughed and played. I'm glad, because I know Peter is clever, but not very wise or compassionate, and he isn't a very good conversationalist, and anyway, I wasn't in the mood for words.
But going on this grand adventure with him was good medicine for my heart. Without saying it, he was inviting me to believe and to hope again... not in the things of my childhood dreams, like Neverland or Grimm's fairy tales, but in something much more... battles that are much nobler to fight than with pirates and Indians, princes that are worth staying awake and alert for, love that goes deeper than songs and dances and kisses.
He showed me that to leave behind childlike magic doesn't mean letting go of it, but discovering a whole new layer of it that is more powerful and more beautiful than I could have dreamed. And it is not on the pages of books or in the Enchanted Forest, but in our world. Yes, this world has a lot of darkness and despair, and it is hard to find such beauty - rare and precious as jewels - but if hope stays alive, it can be found...