by Lara Wilson

No one ever said that being a parent was easy but Roy wondered why it seemed such a big secret that it was so damn hard.

All the time.

Even in normal times, you worried constantly. You thought about your child all the time. She came first always, she had to. Privacy and free time became rare and precious commodities. Life would never be simple again.

There was no instruction manual and despite advice from other parents, your situation was always unique.

And while there were usually people around to help with the good times, you were on your own for the worst. Despite sincere offers, no one could help you then.

You and your child had to get through it together.

He and Lian had to get through this together.

No one could have told him how it would feel to be so helpless in the face of his baby's tears.

How the guilt--knowing it was his fault she was hurt--would eat at him.

How he couldn't indulge in his own crying because he was the parent and had to be strong for her.

And, so, exhausted, broken, full of joy and self-hate, relief and guilt, Roy sat on the edge of his daughter's little bed, watching her restless sleep, listening to the soft weeping, wanting to touch her, to cling to her, but afraid to frighten her, his eyes never leaving the wide bandage across her lower back.

She'd bear the mark of his mistake for the rest of her life. He could only pray it wouldn't scar her soul as it had Grace's.


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