“You always think the worst is going to happen,” Janet says. But no. I don’t think it will. I think it might. “What?” Janet scoffs as we walk with our son along the canals in Amsterdam. “What do you think — he’s going to fall in and drown?” Yes, I admit it. That’s just what I picture. And in Gubbio, the cars careening down those narrow stone streets, and I’m telling him, “You have to walk on the side, you have to hold hands,” and she’s saying, “Oh, Elsie, he’s OK. Let him be,” until I think I’ll kill her — him repeating, “Oh, Elsie.” I have worried all over the world. It comes to me easily, like perfect pitch to a virtuoso. Formed slowly through the years of childhood like stalactites in dank caves. We don’t just let go and hope for the best in my family. My mother worried how to keep going — a sick husband, the store, children she wanted everything for. I call her, distraught. Janet’s been dizzy for three days. In the ER they inked small xs on the parchment map of her skin. Her doctor’s at a conference in Paris, and I’m afraid there’s a blood clot to her brain. “Go buy a plant,” Janet says. “I’m not going to die.” My mother tells me I learned it from her — how to panic. She was thirteen, oldest of five, when her father left. My grandmother worried how to keep food on the table. Every week she’d board the bus to buy dry goods, children’s clothes, socks to sell in her corner store. When she wasn’t on the six o’clock — winter, it was already dark — my mother sat in the window, tears rumpling her face, praying, Let her come home. And in Russia — my father was a baby when his mother carried him and two older children to the border. Hiding in the forest undergrowth, my father crying, she heard boots bite through the crusted snow. Some women smothered their infants. What went through her mind when the steps hesitated, before turning away? Janet doesn’t think about what might be. She thinks about what is. But I, I carry dread on my shoulders like a knapsack, like the extra pounds my grandmother wanted me to gain. She’d read about a girl in a plane crash. All she had to eat was snow.