And now here we are anyway.
I know you're mad at me right now, Max. I embarrassed you in front of all your classmates by falling off the roof of your school and losing my underwear on that flagpole outside your homeroom. I won't get into what I was doing up there but please just trust me that it was for you, I wanted to surprise you with something nice and I mucked it all up.
I know you're embarrassed, not just of what happened but of the name we share. Heck, I'm embarrassed for you too. You're almost a man now, a fact I understand in theory but which privately baffles me still, and you obviously see your dad for what he really is: a joke, an idiot, a gorsh-darn jerk. You don't bring it up, you look the other way when you can, you even pretend your injuries don't hurt much when you find yourself sucked into the orbit of my catastrophe, but I can see it written on your face. I've had to watch over the past few years as the pedestal I once held in your heart shook then crumbled into rubble, leaving me to tumble into a pile of fine white dust that coated me evenly and then scared me when I looked in a mirror, mistaking my own reflection for a g-g-ghost.
I'm getting sidetracked. Your mother was so much more graceful about this kind of thing. You know, sometimes when I see you skateboarding so effortlessly or making friends who like and respect you or using a toaster without incident I see her in you. I won't pretend to understand what it must be like not having a mother anymore and I haven't done the best job of filling her shoes either, even that time I got my foot stuck in one for a whole week during your baseball tournament. But know it's been hard on your dad too. On my worst days, the days when it feels like everything for miles around me is ash, I can't convince myself her death wasn't my fault. I've ruined so much, surely this cruel twist of fate is also my doing. And that's the worst part of being a goof, Max, something I pray you never have to deal with: I can look back at every disaster and see how I initiated it because this is no curse, it's much worse than that. It's just me.