Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sympathy versus Empathy

Sympathy = I see your pain and I am sorry you suffer.

Empathy = I see your pain and I suffer with you.

Got it? Good.

Oh, why did I feel the need to post this? I've been blog-hopping again, and I got caught up in this blog. I read the whole thing and cried several times. I really, really wanted a happy December for her.

Because I have a child, can I be said to feel empathy for her? Or is it just sympathy?

I want another child. I am greedy. Really, I want three kids, all told. I have one, and one is all I shall have. There's no way my body could do it again. Last time, with Bird, my appendix exploded a third of the way through. I don't want to think what would go, a second time. Also, we can't afford another child. How sad is that? So many people just have them and worry about the money later, but not me. I refuse to lessen the quality of life for the child already here just because I feel twitchy and...empty. Also, also, I haven't been entirely sure I wanted to remain married for the last couple of years - not the best of times to add a baby to the mix, eh? Logic is hard cheese when faced with wanting another little one. So I read that blog, and I started weeping and trying not to get tears in the keyboard because then I would not only be sad but bereft of Bob the Wonder Computer.

I wasn't crying for me. I was crying for a woman who has been dealt a crappy hand and is struggling to play it. I was crying because I know a woman who has terminated pregnancies because condoms were inconvenient but abortions weren't. Six of them. And there are women in the world who are beggaring themselves for the chance at one baby. One.

So, sympathy or empathy? I think empathy...if only because I hurt to the very heart of me, and I just don't think sympathy goes that deep.

So, after I read and read and read and cried and cried and cried, I wrote this:

From the Outside Looking In
You know mama, you give us this expectation
That we are supposed to be fecund,
We should be able to produce children as readily
As the blood that comes with each passing moon

How unfair, then
To deny that fertility
To break the body from creation
So that it will not produce

How unkind to surround the grieving womb
With babies, fresh, sweet, soft
To remind it of failures as it struggles
To hold on to a handful of cells
Just one more day

How much worse to give out the hope
That this time will be different
That the struggle, the pain, the misery
The rage
Will finally pass into beauty
Into joy
Only to dash it all
With a scarlet streak
A twinge
Splashing drops
Pitying stares
Awkward silences
I am not sure it's finished, but for the moment...I am.


Becky said...

I have a lot of blog friends who have lost children or struggled with infertility. And I feel for them the same way I feel for all of the women whose babies I helped birth still and lifeless.

I cannot imagine anything worse in the world. I just can't imagine it.

And I wish I could DO something other than give to March Of Dimes and weep for them. And with them. Both of which I do regularly.

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who feels their pain, and I'm sure they'd be glad to know that you care, too.

RachelW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RachelW said...

I love your poem. It reminds me of one I wrote years ago, when I thought I would never have children. Maybe I'll dig that one up and post it one of these days.

(I tried deleting this post to correct a typo and now it shows up as a deleted post. Oh well... ;)

foolery said...

I don't dare click that link, Kyddryn, or I'll be blubbering all over my office keyboard.

That was a moving poem, finished or unfinished. Sometimes the poem knows when it's finished, even if you don't. I don't think I'd change a word.