My dad has always told me I was the most empathetic person he had ever met. (I used to think he meant pathetic and would cry every time he told me that...) My mom has always said that my job in life was to cry with others. It didn't matter why they were crying and I really didn't need to know why - it was my job to sit down and cry with them. I take my responsibility seriously. I've become very adept at crying with/for others - whether they feel the need to cry or not! This empathy is the biggest reason I never watch the evening news or read the headlines in the newspaper. Not long ago, my mom was telling me about the recent outbreak of crime in a certain neighborhood. My heart ached, not for the people who were so lost that they felt violence and crime was their only choice, but for the guy who was pistol whipped in his own home. I literally cried for the couple whose house was broken into. No, I don't know them - I don't even know their names. But I had to cry for their pain. It's who I am.
The first time I can remember this emotion flooding my heart was October 14, 1987. (I was 4.) Baby Jessica fell down a well in her parent's back yard and it swept the news. Every time they dug next to the well to get to her, she would slip a little further away from the precious air above her and a little closer to the chilly water beneath. The entire ordeal lasted 58 hours. For me, it seemed like weeks and weeks. I was glued to the news coverage. (Yes, at the age of 4.) I cried like she was my baby sister and I had pushed her into the well. I would sit, enraptured by what was going on, until I was literally sick to my stomach. I still remember being mad at my mom when she changed the channel and forced me to watch Sesame Street. Seriously, my empathy runneth over...
Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a blog. It was a hilarious story about a mom who's daughter threatened to run away from home. As I read the story I decided I loved this woman and needed to be her new best friend. So I began to read other blogs she had written. Turns out she's the wife of a Christian singer/songwriter and started the blog to chronicle their journey through the pregnancy of their fourth daughter who they knew would not survive outside of the womb. I wept. You can't begin to imagine how hard I wept! By the time DJ got home, I was a mess. I fell into his arms and sobbed for almost an hour. I cried for this mom who never got to raise her daughter. I cried for their other girls who never got to know their sister. And then the flood gates opened. I cried because the dryer was dead. I cried because my car is in desperate need of repair work. I cried because there are mommies in Haiti who will never hold their sweet baby again. I cried because there are babies in Haiti who will never know their mother's tender touch. I cried because I dropped the raw turkey meat on the floor that I was attempting to cook for dinner. I cried because I was crying so hard that D.J. had to clean up the meat and fight the dogs off all by himself. I cried because I could no longer tutor the student I had so quickly fallen in love with. I cried because I wanted a baby of my own. I cried because I feared it would never happen or I would lose a child as the woman in the blog did. I cried because I didn't have a teaching job. I cried because I didn't understand what God was doing and why He'd called us to Forney. I cried because I miss teaching.
Between my overwhelming sense of empathy and the strain of the past few days, I was a puddle on the floor. I made my all time favorite meal for dinner (spaghetti) and screwed it up royally. I cried some more. By the time all was said and done, I was exhausted! My head hurt. My eyes hurt. My stomach was sore from the strength of the sobs. Even this morning my eyes are red and puffy. D.J. told me I wasn't allowed to read sad blogs anymore. He also told me we're never watching the news again.