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On hot days when I was too irritable to play or sleep, my father would pick me up in his arms and take me to the rocking chair. Sitting on his lap, with my head against his chest, I could always hear his heartbeat. And sometimes that was the only way I could fall asleep. It was something constant, always there and forever calming. It felt like protection against the scratching of my thoughts and the itching of sounds and lights.
It’s no wonder my world unraveled after he died. The protection of his heartbeat was no longer there, shielding me from things I couldn’t understand or cope with.