Creative Clutter

I Know What Fear Sounds Like

June 8, 2022

Last night before bed, she asked me to listen to her heart, and I didn’t think twice about it. But as I put my ear to her chest, and heard a gentle whooshing that I’ve never heard before, it hit me stronger than ever that barring a miracle, heart surgery is imminent. It won’t be tomorrow, but it is coming…and the fact that her doctors can’t give us a timeframe (months, a year, or years) makes it all the more challenging to live with.

She’s an incredibly strong little girl, and I believe 110% that she’ll pass through the coming gauntlet with flying colors, but it doesn’t keep me from wishing, hoping, and praying that I could weather it in her place.

So in the quiet stillness of the all too early morning, while she lay curled up next to me asleep, and with Chris, the cats and pup tetrised around us, I took out my phone and penned my thoughts in the hopes that shedding light on my worries might give a little peace.


I know what fear sounds like… 

It’s the muted, whooshing murmur 
overtop the steady cadence 
Ba-Bump! Ba-Bump!
of my daughter’s eager heart.
It’s the extra, heavy breath
she sometimes snatches from the air
not (yet) because she needs to
but because she likes the power of the sound. 
I know what fear sounds like…
It’s the practiced, measured, tone
of the doctor delivering his diagnosis
wearing terms like coarctation
and sub-aortic stenosis like kindness,
as if by using formal language
rather than talking straight
it will somehow shield us from reality.

I know what fear sounds like…

It’s the clicks and whirrs and purrs
of the machines that quarterly
check up on her progress
coupled with the sighs and shifts and hums
of the white-cloaked technicians
whose steady hands man the echos
as we watch in stoic silence
so she won’t detect our dread.
I know what fear sounds like…

It’s the subtle shhhhh
of the breath that I’ve been holding
airing out the tension in my lungs
as the doctor reads the verdict, “No change,”
and once again releases us to the
purgatory that is the waiting –
knowing major surgery lies ahead.
I know what fear sounds like…

It’s the muffled sobs I cry into my pillow
when our household is asleep.
and each tear represents
a fret that I have failed her somehow,
a frustration that I can’t take this trial from her,
a determination that she will get through this,
and a promise that I will be strong for all of us.

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