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She hits us with that Harriet Tubman look when we slow down.Wallowing in self-pity is a capital crime in her book.Ma is nearly unflappable, a steadying force on my emotive Paps, who survived prostate cancer a decade ago.
As I read to my daughter that night, she did not know my body was going to be scanned the next day.As my daughter took her final gulps of soy milk, my irritability lingered, this time directed at the person I saw in the mirror.I realized my daughter was doing what I needed her to do. My frown smiled as I looked down and took her sippy cup.And ironically, the book will come out this August, a week after the 37th birthday that I intend to see.On most days last year, I worried more about whether I’d finish the book than whether I would survive metastatic cancer.She did not know that her father was likely to die.My daughter reinforced that night what my partner, Sadiqa, and Ma had formulated earlier that day.It made me more self-aware, better able to see the ugly source of my irritability with my daughter, to admit and correct my idiocy and self-centeredness in the moment.And it prepared me for the physical ordeal of healing that was coming.It was what I would ask of nearly everyone I met in the year that followed. She treated me like she always treated me—like it was just another day, like my whole life had not changed, like there was, indeed, a tomorrow. She gazed up at me, perhaps wondering why I had stopped reading. My boisterous reading voice returned like my verve for life. She did not know that for several months I had been steadily losing weight and becoming easily fatigued and filled with bowel pain.She did not know that for several months I had been sitting on toilets only to produce nothing, returning hours later to produce nothing again.