We later learned that he’d been hiding it for six hours before I caught him in the middle of an episode, before I heard him grasping for words and saw that only one side of his mouth was moving. We didn’t know that at the time, or when the ambulance pulled up scant minutes later, the first time I’ve ever felt relief at hearing sirens approach. My mother rode in the ambulance; I followed, and later learned that the patient — my father — was worried that I’d be scared for him when they turned the siren and lights back on as we neared the hospital.

It was a single blood vessel (the neurologist told us later), closing and opening repeatedly. It did no permanent damage.

The rest of it I don’t know how to write. The hours in the emergency room. Watching my father’s face contort as he had yet another stroke, not knowing whether this one would be bigger and more damaging than the last. Able to help only by being there. By bearing witness, and by holding his hand.

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