When I was very small, my dad would play me lullabies on his guitar every night as I fell asleep. Even my most vivid fears of the monsters under my bed would be tamed by his voice and the words to my favorite songs.
When I was a little bit older, our roosters would chase me around our yard, intent on attacking my short-legged and thus, not very fast self. Screaming bloody murder, I would head for the nearest tree, flinging myself over the lowest branch and scrambling my way up to safety. The rooster would circle the tree, and I would settle in until my dad would come home from wherever he was and I could yell for him to come over and walk me back to the house, keeping me safe from the dejected rooster.
When I was older still, my dad would calmly say things like, "Okay, let's try to let the clutch out a little bit more gently this time," as I would yet again kill the engine trying to get out of the driveway when I was first learning to drive.
Utterly unflappable, with the patience of a saint, my father is the kindest, best man I have ever known. No one can match him, and I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't think he was invincible.
My dad has cancer.
I have sat, staring at this computer screen, for the better part of a week trying to write those words. Sitting here, at home on my childhood bed, knowing I have to leave for Boston soon in order to be at work tomorrow, I wonder (as everyone does in these situations) how the world can possibly be going on as if everything is normal when clearly, everything is falling apart.
In the darkness of the early morning, when the only sound you can hear is the blood rushing in your ears and your heart pounding in your chest, you grip your pillow, clench your jaw, squeeze your eyes shut to keep back the tears and none of it helps, all you can feel is the fear.
One day at a time, people say. Think positive, people say. It's too late. The world has cracked, the chasm has opened. Fear has rushed in and it's here to stay.