Monday, January 31, 2011

empathy

Last night, the turtle and I joined Chris, R and another friend for a post reading dinner. A few years ago we discovered a great Indonesian place in Hells Kitchen and it has become one of our go-tos ever since. It's rarely crowded, the service is wonderful and the smells and tastes remind Chris of a New Year's Rijsttafel at his grandmother's house. We got home around 7:30 - just enough time to give the turtle a quick bath before winding down for bed. He was clearly tired after healthy servings of rice, bakmi goreng and rounds of peek-a-boo.

So after a delightful evening, something very strange occurred. As I nursed and rocked my little guy to sleep, I began thinking about the men in my life who lost their battles with depression and mental illness and I was overcome with sorrow and anxiety. Of course I can't bear the thought of losing my boy for any reason...but a loss that is coupled with choice, even if that choice were clouded by illness is inconceivable. And for the first time I understood the sorrow that I saw in the eyes of the mother who showed up on campus with her son's photo album, desperate to tell me their story. And I genuinely understood the sorrow that rests layers deep in the hearts of my own family.

Until now I have remained emotionally distant from loss - even the loss that has occurred within the confines of my own day-to-day. But perhaps with motherhood comes new empathy.

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