My daughter has been ill—feverish, delirious—for two days and this is what I intended to write about here this morning: the tiny girl burning up in my arms while I stroke her hair and tell her, It’s okay. That knot of worry in my gut and also the terrible knowledge that this is the easy hurt, the kind I can soothe, if not fix, with my presence.

But then in the late afternoon of the second day of sickness, a snowstorm blasts Eastern Canada and I learn that the man who, for much of my childhood, served as proxy father—a stepfather—died some months before, in spring. A man I have not spoken to in 16 years.

I think I probably have something to say about this passing, so while my daughter dreams her feverish dreams against me, I try to write it down, the thing that will explain how I feel. Or how I do not ever want my own children to feel. But instead there is just a mess of poisonous narrative that I do not wish to relive. Not on this day, anyway.

And then I realize that the story of my daughter’s suffering in this moment, and my holding her, is not separate from the story of my stepfather and me—the story of karma, because some karma you make and some you are given.

I know that I, too, will fail my children. I fail every day in little ways that I can’t begin to comprehend. All I can do, all anyone can do, is to aim to impart a legacy that empowers, that does not devastate. Or that does not devastate too much.

As a storm rages outside, lives fall into and out of existence. My daughter’s small body stirs and burns with fever in my arms and I tell her,

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

4 thoughts on “Legacies

  1. Hi Tracy, thank you for those thoughts. I understand well what you are going through, but the words that hit me deepest were ‘I know that I will fail my children’. With my kids at adolescence and beyond, I experience the pain of this reality increasingly. And what sauve is there for this pain but letting it go with the dissolution of my self-imposed boundaries. The words from a song long ago often pop into my mind: I’m gonna set my chickens free. Ahh, to be a good farmer.

  2. Heartbreaking story. Amazing writing.

    We are all human. We all jostle and shape one another in amazing and terrifying ways. Your children will be fantastic and broken and strong in ways you can’t imagine. Rest.

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