Baby, you can't always keep the ones you love from getting hurt. Some people built to be the stoppers, others built to be the salve. Son, you got salve in your pockets. I knew as much when I first held you and you reached a pudgy hand toward the spot on my face where the last tear dried. Reaching babies have the healing in them but they have a hard road to travel. See, healin' babies toddle toward people who carry hurt like lunch pails full of leftovers.
And you won't understand this right now, but lunch pail hurt can spread like fire in dry brush and no matter how much salve you store up, you'll still get burned. But here's your blessing: the burning will never take your medicine. That's your gift right there. Some folks lose they medicine before they even meet the ones who need it. Before they learn to heal themselves. You won't ever lose yours.
Not even when your storytelling daughter blames you for not being the stopping type. She will be too young to know how to read a man's nature and let him be who he is. She will be too young to remember my grandmother, an empath who learned firsthand how to love the broken when you can’t stop the breaker, how to pray they live long enough for the measure of fixing she carried in a vial in her pocket. She won't know how lonely it is to be a healer in a house of hurt. She will be too young to thank you for all the salve you spread on fresh wounds even when you were just standing in the kitchen with your arms by your side.
"What's wrong?" you will ask one day when the storm sweeps through and she doesn't have the words to name it. And you will drop your shoulders when she can't answer and brace yourself against the counter so your knees won't buckle under the blows she can't take and you can't stop. But she will read your eyes and see that your medicine is not the type that evaporates when the hurt is white-hot and spreading. She will lean into you and lay her head on the spot on your chest where her whole body once fit. And even though she feels like glowing coal, you will wrap her in your arms like she is the baby she was and your knees won't buckle and you'll take her pain into your body, store it in your bones. She won't know why she feels better, won't know you keep all her tears in your own marrow until you are writhing in your hospice bed and begging for mercy. That's when she will cover your reaching baby hand with her own and pray she can hold all the things you carried. She'll pray for Something, Someone to come and help her take her weight off your spine.