Just at the break of dawn, Peter Pan took me back to my Hobbit Hole. As he set me back down in my wheelchair, I felt gravity take over again, and my feet, hands, and shoulders felt more heavy than ever. He clicked my seat belt, and with a wink he turned to the door. It was more than I could bear, and I tried to shout, "Wait, Peter!" Only it came out in a choked whisper, because my heart was already quickly retreating from its momentary courage. "I can't do this... I can't hang on to hope when life keeps getting harder and I keep getting weaker. Can't I please go with you?"
He turned back and knelt before me, taking my hands in his. "The thing about flying up there," he said, tilting his head toward the ceiling, "is that life seems so far away - so small and distant. Sometimes you need to fly, to get some perspective... to know that the world is a lot bigger than you; that hope is bigger than your problems. But-" Peter jumped and sat on top of the counter with his legs crossed Indian-style and fiddled with the Burmese spoon, "if you stay up there, your life will always be small and distant. You'll have the stars, but not the people you love. I don't have anyone to love, so I don't mind. But you do," he said, putting down the spoon and looking me in the eye. "You are meant to live up close and personal. When you do, you see the wrinkles and cracks - all the imperfections and disappointments - and you feel every bump and splinter along the way. But you also get to see the intricate, beautiful details, and feel the comforting warmth, and hear the steady heartbeat of it. You wouldn't want to miss that, would you?"
I blink back tears, look away, and shake my head. No, I wouldn't want to miss that.
"Then live a big life!" he concluded, and flew toward the door. As it opened itself again, I heard the beep of the alarm, which sounded more like a tinkling bell. "The closer you press in to life, the bigger it becomes - the mess, the beauty, the pain, the joy, the love, the adventure - it all gets bigger! Don't run from it, whatever you do, and don't give it up for anything. Have courage, have hope, and live!"
I watched from the doorway as Peter flew out and did a few somersaults into the alley, and then tightrope-walked on the power line. Then he laid on his back with his hands behind his head and allowed the wind to carry him away over the rooftops. His laughter seemed to linger in the crisp morning chill that kissed my face. Finally, I closed the door, sniffled back the last remaining tear, and smiled. He'll be back, I told my heart with confidence. He still hasn't found where I hid his shadow.