I shrank from this frightening image of the doctor and his corrupt medicine, and only then did I understand, as I had not before, that although I had renounced my father’s world, I had never quite found the courage to live in this one.

Dad spoke at the funeral. His speech was a twenty-minute sermon on God’s promises to Abraham. He mentioned my grandmother twice. To strangers it must have seemed he was hardly affected by the loss of his mother, but we knew better, we who could see the devastation.

It was crucial that I not look at him. As long as I kept my eyes on the spire, I almost believed he couldn’t touch me. Almost. Because even while I clung to this belief, I waited to feel his hands on my neck.