This is an excerpt from my second memoir, Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation.
Carter and I had been driving home from his friend Chris’s house one Saturday afternoon. Chris lived near Mount Pentelicus, one of my favorite haunts outside of Athens. From the crest of this hill on a clear day in winter, you could see the whole bowl of Athens with the smog hovering overhead. This was where the Brits came to celebrate Boxing Day every December 26.
Crowds of people also came to fly kites on Mount Pentelicus in December when the weather changed. As we turned the corner, we saw the tail of a kite peeking out from under a pile of rubbish, flags zigzagging down the string. Its owners must have had no more use for it when it lost its wind, and so it lay abandoned in the field.
Our curiosity taking over, we stopped the car, got out, and went to investigate. We wanted to breathe new life into this broken and tattered kite. I never thought that something inanimate could come to life. But at that time in my life, there was a dying in me that I knew I had to defeat or it would defeat me. My son was part of this tragedy, and somehow we knew that the road to healing could start with repairing that kite and watching it fly again. A dust-covered old TV pinning it down to the ground was holding the kite hostage. Its colorful tail saved it from certain death.
So we took the kite home and repaired it with glue and tape. We waited for a day with just enough wind to try and fly it.
I was restless inside, as though we were testing something other than the kite. Lying on the sofa for weeks, staring at our beautiful Christmas tree, I had been questioning my decision over and over. How could I do this to my family? How could I be so selfish? My mother stayed, I remember thinking to myself. And when I was much younger, she was one of the saddest, most guilt-ridden women I knew. I wanted to be happier than she had been.
The day to test the kite finally came, a clear, sunny day with a nice breeze. Together we took the kite back to the mountain. We watched it continue to rise and float in the air until all the string was used up. We ran with it as it leaped in the wind, flying like it was brand-new. A miracle!
We brought it down and carefully put it in the car. We would probably never fly it again, but I couldn’t let go of something that had taught me such an eloquent lesson: I was sure from that day on that there are second chances in life for those who have the heart to reach for them.