"All the good ones leave."
"Excuse me...what did you say?"
"I said, 'all the good ones leave.'"
"Why would you say that, kiddo? You know it's not true."
"The last one was the best one, and she left."
"Look, son, it's not a matter of 'best' and 'worst,' she didn't fit."
"She did. I know. But we didn't fit either."
Silence filled the cab of the truck as we lumbered down the gravel road.
The child's truth must be balanced by a kind parental lie.
"Look, son, when the right one comes along, it's all going to work.
Until then, we learn something from each new friend we make along the way."
Silence, except for the gravel crushing under truck tires.
"If mom didn't fit, then why did you cry so much when she left?"
"I wasn't ready to change when she left. I'm getting there.
Being together defined us, but now I'm free to find a better fit."
"Dad, I'm never gonna get married."
"Never? That's a long time. We'll see."
"I made Mom cry the other day. Over our house. I told her it was the last thing I have of all of us together."
"Don't be cruel to your mother, boy. That house is just a thing. I never even liked that place."
"You planted fifty trees and a hundred plants around that house; I told her I'm going to go and dig them up and plant them in our new back yard."
I imagined my garden growing in his stepdad's yard. "Son, there's nothing special in those plants."
"Dad, they are symbols."
"I'm proud that you want to keep a garden, but I planted those things for the next generation that lived there. I knew it wouldn't be us, son."
"You did? Then why..?"
"Every place you go, you should leave a mark. Something that will live beyond you, boy."
"Remember that silver maple you let me plant, Dad? It's taller than the house now!"
"Brittle wood...we should have planted it further from the house."
"No Dad, it looks strong. It's big around as your leg even."
"A tree that grows too tall too fast... you can almost guarantee the wood will snap in a storm. Oaks grow slow and steady...you can count on them to last."
"Is that why she left, Dad?"
"No, the new one."
"Maybe so, son. Maybe so."