That spring I planted azaleas in the front yard, buried my fear at their roots, waited for the bloom to swallow the house in waves of white, pink, red. When I stood next to your bed, I couldn’t hold your hand — couldn’t brush against the sudden realization of your fragility. You told me you survived for me, lived because of me, and the doctor agreed. The words settled in the spaces between my ribs like water on the lungs, like the uncanny weight of someone else’s life in my hands, like the weight of a sweet-rotting branch about to fall.
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