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I am heartless. My sister’s voice, shocked and tearful, tells me our father is ill, seriously ill. I hurry from the phone to my room to check my wardrobe. I look for something black, something that will look elegant and flattering on my saggy body.  I am heartless. I remember Father’s kind face; I feel his hand holding mine as he led me encouragingly into the sea when I was four.  “We will have fun,” he promised. “I will carry you if you want. Just don’t be afraid. Nothing can hurt as long as I am here with you.”  I was such a cowardly child. I was afraid of water, afraid of loud voices, afraid of losing Father.  I had a recurrent dream that my father had died; I had it throughout my childhood. I would wake up shivering and crying. Mother always said it meant that Father would live to be one hundred. When you dream someone is dead it means they will have a long life, she said each time. And I believed it. A world without him could not be real.  But Father is not one hundred yet. He is not even near that. Maybe I will have to forget about the black dress for a while. For ten years, maybe?  Or just five… a couple of years will do… or just a few more months. Who knows?  Maybe he will take me to my grave, the same tender way he took me everywhere… the same loving hand holding mine, the same tired eyes when he stayed up all night to keep me company as I studied, the same smile as he held my babies the moment they came out of my womb. Father was always there, will always be here, for me, for all of us.  I never told Father how much I love him. See how heartless I am?


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