Pulling back from abyss

My daugh­ter be­ing rushed to hos­pi­tal in­cites a state of mind-crush­ing fear

Life & Style Weekend - - YOU - BY Owen Jac­ques

When we ar­rived, I parked nearby and sprinted to the am­bu­lance to find my fam­ily.

IN LIFE there are lim­its to joy, and lim­its to fear and de­spair. Imag­ine that your emo­tional range spans from zero–10, with only the most ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence able to knock you flat to a zero, while your high­est highs al­low you to soar to that rare and fleet­ing 10.

The thing with father­hood is that those lim­its dis­solve and widen.

You’re now ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the equiv­a­lent of a 15 – a lov­ing joy so pow­er­ful that it dwarfs the high­est high you ever thought pos­si­ble.

But th­ese mo­ments of sheer ul­tra-joy are also mir­rored at the other end.

Where zero should be your rock bot­tom, you’re now ca­pa­ble of go­ing into the neg­a­tives.

Imag­ine zero be­ing the water’s edge, where the ocean quickly deep­ens to an ever-darker un­ex­plored abyss that ex­pands be­yond the hori­zon. That is how I imag­ine the depths of de­spair and fear that are now pos­si­ble since my daugh­ter came along. At the week­end, I was forced to stand on the edge of that water.

She fell hard from a bench, bang­ing her head on our wooden floor then rolling over.

The am­bu­lance ar­rived, with com­fort­ing of­fi­cers driv­ing, and I fol­lowed as it ended up out­side the emer­gency room at the hos­pi­tal.

At one point the am­bu­lance pulled over to the side of the road and I steeled my­self.

The van was gen­tly rock­ing as though peo­ple were rush­ing around in­side. I was man­ag­ing un­til then.

‘Why have they stopped? Have they stopped be­cause some­thing is wrong? Are they do­ing CPR? Has she stopped breath­ing? Would I know if she had?’

The am­bu­lance drove on.

When we ar­rived, I parked nearby and sprinted to the am­bu­lance to find my fam­ily. Ev­ery­one ap­peared okay, if shaken.

From there she im­proved rapidly. I was away from the water, away from the abyss.

Our or­deal lasted a whole four hours. And I’ve de­vel­oped a new-found fear of that water.

Fol­low Owen Jac­ques on Face­book or find @Owen­jay on Twit­ter.

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