For those that aren’t going through something serious or draining themselves, it is empathy that acts as a support for someone who is going through much more than you are at that time. It is one of the stilts that keeps the house up.
You don’t always need to experience something yourself to be willing to empathise but you do need to be selfless for a moment or more. Just the act of truly committing yourself to feel and attempt to understand, for more than a few moments, is an act of solidarity.
Most individuals don’t get beyond the first three seconds. Most don’t sit with a thought long enough to feel something. Some just won’t be able to process a thought. That’s ok too. At least you tried.
You don’t suddenly live in a bubble of pity, sympathy or support when your child has cancer. ‘All the assholes in the world still exist’. I’ve met some parents who wanted me to write that part; because for them they have family, friends or idiots along the way who have made things feel worse for a variety of reasons. I’ve said to them, the world carries on regardless, this, as awful as it is, is more than a distraction for us. It is simply what we have to be consumed by all this now and I hate it too. Some people have more regard and some less. It is still love that binds us and those without support suffer a great deal.
I saw a woman crying and smashing the wall with her fists. She wasn’t crazy or depressed. She was alone in her grief and her grief was too much to keep inside. I just went over to her and gave her a hug and held her and let her cry. I never got her name. Her kid was alive and was going through treatment. She just had a moment where it was all too much. Her sister hadn’t come to visit; she was busy with her own kids and planning her wedding. It was all getting too much for her being inside all the time and hearing her child screaming and vomiting. Her husband couldn’t handle living at the hospital. She wanted me to share all this because she wanted you to know how ‘s@£t’ it can be and that it hurts when the people you thought would show up don’t. By showing up she didn’t just mean physically present.
Not every one has empathy. It hurts most when you dont get it from where you expect it.
I try and manage my expectations. I also try to be mentally resilient. Ive gone from being devastated to scared to angry to scared to anxious to upset to happy to crying to stoic to calm. It’s a journey.
I’m calm these days. I like staying calm. I’m also too tired to care. I’ve become more desensitised. I like being in the moment with Daya when at the hospital. I like talking to the nurses. I like learning new things. I like laughing with good people. I’d much rather be with all of my kids; healthy, happy and at home. But this is the card we have been dealt. I dont have the energy to shower sometimes so I spend my energy wisely. I spend it on my kids. I always have something to sort out for any one of the kids. Almost everything in life will only matter as much as you allow it to. And some things might happen that will or might destroy you. We cant be in any of this alone. We must be together.
‘You dont laugh or cry for more than a few moments’ Nani, 2019
Ive always thought that driving is a lot like life. Everyone is going forwards somewhere to do something (hopefully) worthwhile. Their driving style says a lot about how they function in the real world, how well they will cope and fundamentally about their personality type.
Have you ever given way to someone whilst driving? Have you seen how happy the other person is. Everyone wants to be given a chance in life. Most people are trying to get ahead in some way. The world doesn’t expect kindness, and look how happy people get when they are given way to join the line of traffic.
I once gave way to around a dozen people on the way home as I was trying to maximise Anaya’s nap time on the way home. I didn’t want to arrive too early. I observed that everyone was happier and grateful when I gave them way. It was becoming addictive for me. I was getting a kick out of watching people react. It did also make me smile too.
We need to slow down, think, feel and give way more.
Me: all those people out there with their healthy kids…. fussing and moaning and making plans…they don’t know how good they have it.
Him: nodding quietly. ‘True’
Me: and I think the only people that could say that to us right now are the parents that have lost their children.
There is always someone better and worse off than you in some way or another. It doesn’t matter. What matter is that we are kind and patient with each other.