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"Pedro, come out!"

It's three years ago, and my father is on his hands and knees, peering under the bed, where the cat has hidden. My daughter is two and loves animals, but Pedro--a fluffy, ten-year old house cat--has decided he doesn't want to play with her. He has retreated to safety back in the dark underbelly of the bed. The two humans crouch down together, side by side, toddler copying grandfather: "Come out, Pedro! Come out! Everything will be fine! Pedro, come out!"

I hear these words again this morning, while searching for videos of my father on my phone. He’s been critically ill in the ICU for six days and finally has stabilized. He's been off the intravenous sedatives for almost 24 hours. But even so, he still does not stir or move. I imagine him, his life-force overwhelmed by illness, hiding somewhere inside the swollen shell of his body.

We have been talking to him since the beginning--sometimes whispering in his ear that we love him, other times pretending he’s here and watching the news with us. Today I feel like yelling: Come back to us, already! Wake up, Dad! Even if it seems painful and scary, we want you back! ... Come out, Pedro! Everything will be fine!

Marta Christov
Tarrytown, New York