The sky has fallen down many times in your daughter’s short life, the sky with all the stars in it, and you have picked up the pieces more times than you can remember, and you have climbed the ladder and put them back in place, where you think they should go, and you get things in backwards and out of sequence, but you do the best you can, and you climb down off the ladder, and you’re at peace with your work. You wish it could be better, but there’s only one of you, and the sky is so vast, it takes a while to put it back together again, and you did the best you could.
And you just went through all that work, and here is the goddamned sky scattered all over the carpet again.
The neurologist describes the new problem, like having a massively deformed brain is not enough for one child to bear. You process what he is saying: there’s a hole in your daughter’s spinal cord. He calls it a channel, and he gives the medical name for it, so you can look it up on the computer and give yourself a heart attack, and then he says he would like a neurosurgeon to consult, and you say, sure, because what are you going to say? I can’t do this anymore?
So you tell your daughter she has a hole in her spine, and she takes the news gracefully, the way she has taken everything you’ve ever told her about herself, you have a massively deformed brain, you have seizure disorder, there is no cure for your disease, and oh yes, your all-time favorite surgeons took out the left side of your brain when you were nine months old.
There is one secret thing you never tell her. You never tell her how afraid you are that this is the last time. The last birthday. The last kiss good night. The last time you will ever sing the Mockingbird Song to her, the way you have done every night for thirteen years.
You have never done anything for thirteen years before.