I have seen my father on his knees,
his hands yanking at his hair
as he cried and convulsed.
He said, "I promise you, it's not worth it,"
and looked up at me—
half-empty pill bottle clutched to my chest—
with red-rimmed, sullen eyes.
I had never wanted him
to ruin himself for me,
to get caught up in my drool and sleepless nights,
my mud-caked ankles and monthly bleeding,
my hormones and dramas.

I brought him to his knees—
made him look at me and say, "Please, don't.
It's never worth it."