It was not a leap, just a calculation that I hoped would work when I asked the students, “Who in this room has cancer?” Not expecting any hands to rise one did and I noticed but moved on to “Who in this room has someone in their family that has cancer?” and four out of ten hands rose. It was a calculation to lead to conversation about why we do all these things so that when you are a father and your daughter makes you one of those four hands you know how to learn, investigate, write, ask, decide, to stand beside. After class, she stood beside me: clutching her books to her chest, pretty, long dark brown high school hair—straight, shimmering, luscious, reaching for the small of her back. “Leukemia” and “Three years ago” and “Cured.” is what I heard as I thought of her bald or left just with wisps on a bed with tubes in her arms. She was trying not to cry as she said, “Your daughter will be fine. I know she will. I know she will. Don’t worry, everything will be okay.” She left. I was speechless, frozen and convinced. You are never prepared for this—the advent of angels.
Published previously in The Land I am Given, January 2011.
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