Let’s not think of Lance’s family, back on Earth.
Let’s not think about his parents, sending their son off to the Garrison because he loves the stars and he knows what he wants and he’s worked so hard to get there—let’s not think about them being told their son is never coming home.
Let’s not think about how his parents told the rest of the family. Let’s not think about trying to explain to his younger siblings that I’m sorry, sweetheart, but Lance won’t be coming home this summer. Let’s not think about his siblings misunderstanding, and asking when he would be coming home. Let’s not think about his parents having to explain what it really means that Lance is d—de—dead. Let’s not think about his siblings finally understanding and crying and screaming at everything that goes wrong for the next few months, because What does it matter, Mama? Why does it matter if I’m good? Lance was good! Lance was good but he’s still gone! I don’t want to be good if it means I’ll go away!
Let’s not think about his parents trying to be strong for their children. Let’s not think about them crying, alone, in the middle of the night, when nobody can interrupt them, because dammit Lance was meant for better things that this; he was meant to shine; he was meant to l i v e
Let’s not think about Lance’s older siblings and extended family. Let’s not think about his older siblings learning that their baby brother—the one who was trying to do so much with his life, who had so many plans and dreams, who was kind of patient and good and wonderful and insecure, yes, but who took that and used it to make sure none of his siblings ever felt like he did—was gone because of some freak accident that they never got a full answer for because It’s classified. Let’s not think about his older siblings trying to understand why this would happen, how this could happen, how are any of them supposed to just cope and move on now that Lance, the brother who was only sixteen, damn it, he was still a child, was dead and would never call home again on Christmas and Easter and on everyone’s birthdays.
Let’s not think about the younger ones—not the youngest, exactly, who still didn’t really understand that dead meant never coming back and still asked when Lance would come home, but the younger ones, the ones closest in age to Lance—developing separation anxiety, and refusing to go to school because what if while they were gone someone else left, too?
(Let’s not think about Lance, in space, wishing he could go home and see his family and his mother and his siblings and hug them and tell them all about the stars and the wonderful things he had seen. Let’s not think about him, lonely, feeling like a seventh wheel, not knowing where his place is, because at home he knew it was his job to comfort and be his mother’s right hand man, but out here nobody wants his comfort, and there is no mother for him to help. It’s just him, teammates who don’t really seem to like him, and a neverending vastness of stars and heartache.)
Let’s not think about any of that at all.