[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlVaC1DWrOs[/YOUTUBE]

I am a fearful person.

I remember whenever I needed my father he would wrap his arms around me. I was enveloped in a huge bear hug, and I felt as if I could stay there for however long I needed to.

I was completely safe.

No one could ever hurt me in my father?s arms because he was strong enough to protect me from anything and from anyone.

He does not hug and kiss me. He is not a soft man. He is not a weak man.

I understand I am loved through the way he looks at me and the way he speaks to me.

I understand I am cherished.
---

It?s very hard to watch him falter.

Stumble.

Fall.
---

My father was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday night.

He suffered from a series of small heart attacks starting on Monday night.

I remember sitting in the parking lot across from work, and wailing and sobbing into my brother?s arms while we waited from my younger brother to come out from driver?s ed. My mother had called to tell me that Calvert Internal flew my father to Washington for proper treatment and he was in the midst of a major heart attack.

I cried from nine that night until two forty where I fell into an uneasy sleep.

The house phone woke me up at six thirty and asked for my mother.

We wait.

He suffers another series of minor heart attacks and I visit him in the hospital with my brothers and my mother. I?ve never seen him so pale. I?m used to the tanned, muscled man that would lay his arm against mine and call me a vampire for being so white.

Not the man attached to wires and giving me the ghost of a grin, which mirrored my own wilted smile.

We joke, laugh, and talk.

I begin to cry as I hug him goodbye, and yet I still feel utterly safe and protected in his arms. I tell him he has to get better. My mother yells that he isn?t allowed to die yet.

I see him again the next day, and I fall asleep in his hospital room with my head resting in my arms against the windowsill. My mother lamely complains that I look uncomfortable when I wake, but sleeping in that hospital room with my parents talking was the only restful sleep I had in three days.

I do not see him on Sunday. Today I call my mother back, she called in the middle of a rush at work, and people don?t like to wait for their coffee.

She tells me that they did a drug induced stress test and my father lasted five minutes and forty three seconds.

The doctors have chosen to do a triple bypass.

I begin to cry at work, standing in the bakery, and the seafood boy- Thomas, wraps me in his arms and tells me in his very country accent that everything will be okay, and that the doctors would do their best so it ain?t any use worrying my pretty head over.

I do not feel safe in Thomas? arms, but he is big and warm and I can hold him as tight as I need to until I can stop shaking.

I end up texting David to find out if he can give me a ride into work tomorrow and he responds quickly. He says that he can. [This is an hour or so ride out of his way, he does not have work tomorrow- but for me he will make the trip.]

I think David has been my only scrap of happiness in these days.

---
I only realized how proud I am of my family tonight on the way home in the car with my older brother, Danny.

We do not wilt away and grow apart when the family is in trouble.

No.

We circle the wagons like a motherfucker.

We laugh. We smile. We joke.

We continue because we are family and we love one another enough not to let each other fall apart.

My younger brother rubs my shoulder as my older brother held me, sobbing- wailing- beating at his back in the parking lot. My older brother runs his hand through my hair and rocks me like a baby. He knows he can?t offer me any words, so he offers me an embrace that I accept only from a select few.

My mother tells me that the only way I know how to express my grief is to claw out of my skin.

I put on pretty dresses and makeup and curl my hair and smile for my father. I do not tell him I have scrubbed much of my skin raw in scalding hot showers when I come home or that my eyes are sore, my back aches, and I am unrecognizable as living without makeup on to mask stress and grief.

I protect him by giving him a sense of normalcy. I?m helping him in the only way I know how, the only way that I can.

We bend. We break. We rebuild.

This is what family is for.

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I am truly, utterly cherished.