She sits back and presses in to her father’s familiar warmth. She knows what’s coming; she’s been here before. And there I stand beside her, offering words of comfort underneath my conjured smile; words that I know she will trust completely despite how helpless I actually feel. It’s as though my words are not even words but empty space in time, designed to pass the seconds and distract her from what waits in the minutes ahead.
She braces, and then winces with the pain. It’s not excruciating, but enough to feel unnatural about leaving her arm out in a way that invites more. Her father holds her tighter, as I anxiously apply more words to ease her mind, trying looking past the moment and simultaneously praying for a miracle. She wants to pull away, I know it, but holds still… because she’s in her daddy’s arms.