My dad wasn't often around to tuck us children in at night. His medical school hours were beastly long. But occasionally [and that's a very rare "occasionally"] he came home early. And he put me and Brittany to bed. And this was special. Because he told stories.
His most frequent hero was John Henry Fishamunga. A fish. Duh.
One night, after Dad pulled the covers up to our chins and kissed our foreheads, we begged him for a Fishamunga story. Maybe he was tired from a gruelling day of diagnosing and dissecting. He may have been wishing for his own bedtime. But looking back, for whatever reason, he must have been grumpy.
Because John Henry Fishamunga died that night.
He was eaten by a shark when he swam alone even though his daddy told him not to.
It was like a tragic epiphany where I was hit by the brutal truth of several things at once. Namely, that my parents couldn't fix everything, that my choices could actually lead to a permanent end, that all endings are not happy, and that someday I would die.
All in all, not the best day.
These days Grace's newest favorite activity is telling scary stories. And the following is, word-for-word, the story she told me in the car on our way to church:
"Once upon a time ...
"There was a little boy and a little girl.
"And they hugged.
"And they were buddies.
"And then a bear eated them.
"And they were tasty."
Apparently Grace has no false notions about everything turning out happily ever after. I have no idea how that happened.