My daughter has had a rough few days. For three days, she did not eat. Her shoulder blades are like fragile wings, folded ready for flight. Her legs have changed from coltish to spidery. The vertebrae are spiky down her back. So today, although she has finally ceased ejecting her stomach contents, Laura remains wan and lethargic. She is indecisive - unable to choose what she might attempt to eat, what she'd like to do, where she might lie.
I asked whether she felt able to take a short drive to the local DVD rental store. Laura pondered this, pale-faced and serious.
"Yes, that would be OK. It's not very far to walk from the car."
I pressed her further : "But sweetie, we'd be walking around inside a bit, choosing the DVD. Are you sure you have the energy?"
Laura looked at me steadily. "I could do anything with you to hold my hand."
I realise Laura didn't mean this in a sweeping, generalised sense. She's only five, and I guess she was being quite literal - she could go get a DVD if I helped her along, she could come for a short walk with the dog, if I helped her along...
I prefer to believe that Laura feels nothing is beyond the realms of possibility, if only I will be there with my hand in hers.