Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Weak heart

It is a virtue to have empathy, to be able to feel the pain of others. But if you are like me and have a weak heart, one that bleeds tears of sorrow for others so readily, empathy can also be a force that crushes. You can get so wrapped up in the whys, the should haves, and the how comes that you forget to enjoy the fleeting moments on this earth that you have that are truly blessed. I know for sure that I made the right decision in leaving the field of veterinary medicine, because I know that the daily exposure to pain, suffering and death would have beaten me down to a point where true joy would have been an emotion rarely felt. While I never want to become so desensitized to the pain of others that I cease to feel that tug on my heart, I know that I must limit my exposure to the horrors of this world, because my heart simply can't take it. I am too weak.

So I have found ways to hide from misery--I change the channel, turn off the radio, turn the page. But this week, there was no escape. The TV played images of the VT nightmare and grief over and over and so goes my mind in an unrelenting repetition of what I imagine those students felt--how frightened they must have been. And the professors who had so much to offer the world who were sharing their knowledge with America's future...gone. In the blink of an eye. And the moms and dads miles away not knowing the fate of their children. Willing the phone to ring, but dreading it as well. How can humans endure such pain and go on? But we must, and we will. We must say our prayers, grieve for what was lost and what could have been and move on.

This week has been hammering away at the fortress that I have been trying to build to shield myself from the pain and suffering. On top of the tragedy that befell those innocent lives in Blacksburg, there was another unfathomable event eating away at my dreams. A mother on one of the scrapbook boards I read found out that her 12 year old son has terminal colon cancer. How as a mother do you deal with have your pain, your fears, your anger and yet have to be so strong for the life that you brought into this world, the life that is being snuffed out long before its due? I don't know this woman beyond what she has written on the boards over the years, have never spoken to her, yet I internalize this tragedy imagining that it is not her son, but mine--playing the movie over and over in my head, until it feels almost like her pain is my own. And there is no escape--for once the thought has entered my mind, it finds ways to make itself known throughout the day. And so my heart cries out for reprieve.

And my heart's cry was heard in a small, but powerful way. Along with all of the outpouring of support for those involved in Monday's events, there is another joy to be found--a reason to be grateful for the goodness of man. This good tiding comes in the form of a benefit for this mother and her family, a benefit organized by the scrapping community that is being driven by others, who like me, have never met this woman, never spoken with her, never even seen her in person. People who feel her pain and want to help to ease it in anyway that they can. No questions asked. You can read about their effort at . While the week's events have left another hole in my heart, the selfless giving of a few have gone a long way toward repairing the damage.


  1. grandma7:19 PM

    It is not weakness that makes your bleed, it is strength..

  2. Mandy4:39 PM

    Very touching, indeed. Such tragedy as of late. There has been much of it on the LJ boards, as well. I found myself sobbing at work one day last week. But, you are right, the selflessness and giving of others is refreshing and gives me a renewed respect for my fellow man.