I find myself in this practice far too often.
Instead of blaster burns, broken bones or even amputation, I'm now fighting poison. My body seems to be winning the battle and Jacen's abilities have purged most of the toxin from my system, but I need rest. It's the horrible kind of rest - where my mind is awake and desperate for distraction.
So I reminisce. My fifty years have seen more experiences than any person reasonably should. Distant worlds and familiar locations flash through my mind, but I need faces to create a context. Friends, allies, enemies - though, to aid my physical healing, I think of people I've helped; countless trillions who still enjoy life because of my contributions. I feel at peace when I think of them. They are the benefit to an adult life that has seen almost nothing but war.
However, the faces of people I've failed will forever haunt me. Failure is an inevitable part of life - I can almost feel a disapproving glare from Master Yoda in those moments when I deny my failures. It is those experiences that give me encouragement on a quest for self-improvement that should never end.
But?there are two faces I see more than others. They represent my first failure, my first lesson in the harshness of the universe.
They are the people I remember as Mom and Dad.
There's nothing you could have done had you been there, Luke. I didn't accept Ben's words as he spoke them and perhaps I still don't. But I knew that guilt would serve no purpose. Their deaths could not be changed and as Uncle Owen frequently said to me, "Remorse is a wasteful act in the desert."
Over time, I have learned to let go of my guilt over their deaths. When I needed a happy memory of my Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, my thoughts always drift to "the Bantha Game." In my earliest years, I would ride on their backs as they crawled through the sand, pretending to be the large, hairy beasts indigenous to Tatooine. My laughter would squeal forth at a pitch used mostly by Jawas.
But I had another type of guilt to face. My grief for their loss was quickly replaced with rage after Vader's revelation to me. Though I expressed anger towards Ben alone, I was equally furious with my aunt and uncle. How could they not tell me? These were the people who watched me take my first few steps, taught me to drive a speeder and disciplined me when I lost my temper. Didn't they feel regret for lying to me every time I asked about my real parents? Did all the respect they'd shown me not mean a thing? Why did they believe I couldn't handle the truth?
And like a wave of reproach, that anger was replaced with remorse; overwhelming shame for privately cursing my guardians who had sacrificed much to give me a good childhood. They loved me as parents and asked only that I contribute to their livelihood. I forced myself to admit that the secret they carried was not theirs to give.
Now, today, on the 30th anniversary of their deaths, I reflect on their connection to the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. So much of my life echoes the life of my father - service to some larger cause, the loss of parents, a desire to see the galaxy, the love of a beautiful woman. And yet, when the time came, I still chose differently from Anakin. Darkness dominated his destiny, while the light became mine.
Why did I make that choice? With all the parallels in our lives, why did I not become the next Darth Vader?
The answer lies with my first teachers; the man and wife who raised me as a son, taught me compassion, forgiveness, restraint, respect? and then stood firm when the choice to protect me resulted in the ultimate sacrifice.
I can't have you back, but I will not lose you.
You both remain, undeniably, the better part of me.
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