I know her well enough to know that the phrase, "Don't worry, everything is okay...", means nothing when it's said with palpable fear that I recognize from 26 years of straining to hear the truth in words meant to comfort and distract.
Everything is not okay. I've known that for a while. When I opened up my eyes from the deep sleep of babyloss grief and saw just how old they've become in the last few years, I knew everything was not okay. Not anymore.
I've just pretended otherwise because it was easier that admitting that his heart is failing rapidly. I can't bear to think of that heart being stilled. I can't bear it. So I've been stubbornly burying my head as far down into the sand as it'll possibly go and pretending that I can't hear or see what is achingly obvious.
His heart is failing.
In February 1984, during an ordinary school lunch period, I found out that fathers aren't immortal. I found out that a dad so strong he used to be able to turn me upside down, lifet me up and let me walk on the ceiling, is only as strong as his heart.
In June 1998 I comforted myself with the knowledge that he probably had another 10 - 15 years, according to the doctor who implanted the defibrillator following his sudden cardiac arrest.
In August 2004, while pregnant with Thomas, I learned that even sickly fathers can be as strong as an ox; that they can survive defibrillator replacement surgery at 74 and thrive in only the way a stubborn Irish father with a bum ticker can.
I won't grieve before it's time. I won't. He would hate that as much as he hates knowing he's eventually going to be the cause of such awful grief.
So I won't.
But I can't promise I won't still cry every once in a while. Someone with a heart as loved as his should expect nothing less.