Your Sunday Afternoon Read: A Father's Worst Nightmare

"Edge Of The Abyss," published in the Sydney Morning Herald's Saturday edition, is an illustration of the challenges involved in keeping a family together when one of its youngest members has an incurable, potentially life-threatening condition (though the life in danger is not necessarily her own).

An excerpt:

Before Janni was born, we were given baby toys by family and friends. Most of them are for six-, nine- or even 12-month-olds. I didn't expect to use them for months, but if I can get her focused on something, she stops screaming.

One toy has three shapes on it: a red square, a blue triangle and a yellow circle. When switched on, the toy asks, "Find the red square." I still remember sitting in our easy chair, half-asleep, holding my three-week-old daughter as she bats away at the toy. "Find the yellow circle ... Correct. Find the red square ... Correct." Through the fogginess of my exhaustion, I become aware that she's hitting the right shapes and colours. I look down, thinking it must just be coincidence.

"Janni, where's the yellow circle?" I ask, watching her arm stretch out, fist closed, as if struggling to make her body do what she wants it to do.

"Correct," the toy announces.

No. It can't be. She's not even a month old. "Janni, press the blue triangle."

"Correct," the toy announces.

Oh my God.

Read more after the jump.