by Owen Jacques
IN LIFE there are limits to joy, and limits to fear and despair. Imagine that your emotional range spans from zero-10, with only the most terrible experience able to knock you flat to a zero, while your highest highs allow you to soar to that rare and fleeting 10.
The thing with fatherhood is that those limits dissolve and widen.
You're now capable of hitting the equivalent of a 15 - a loving joy so powerful that it dwarfs the highest high you ever thought possible.
But these moments of sheer ultra-joy are also mirrored at the other end.
Where zero should be your rock bottom, you're now capable of going into the negatives.
Imagine zero being the water's edge, where the ocean quickly deepens to an ever-darker unexplored abyss that expands beyond the horizon.
That is how I imagine the depths of despair and fear that are now possible since my daughter came along.
At the weekend, I was forced to stand on the edge of that water.
She fell hard from a bench, banging her head on our wooden floor then rolling over.
The ambulance arrived, with comforting officers driving, and I followed as it ended up outside the emergency room at the hospital.
At one point the ambulance pulled over to the side of the road and I steeled myself.
The van was gently rocking as though people were rushing around inside. I was managing until then.
'Why have they stopped? Have they stopped because something is wrong? Are they doing CPR? Has she stopped breathing? Would I know if she had?'
The ambulance drove on.
When we arrived, I parked nearby and sprinted to the ambulance to find my family. Everyone appeared okay, if shaken.
From there she improved rapidly. I was away from the water, away from the abyss.
Our ordeal lasted a whole four hours. And I've developed a new-found fear of that water.