When Life Gives You Empathy

When Life gives you empathy.

Life is full of zingers and trials we all know. There are many reasons why we endure these troubles as well as many beliefs on purpose. But empathy rings out as one of those virtues in a human that builds character. 

This story doesn't start at the beginning of my life, it begins after fathering 4 daughters. My wife comes to me and says, "we are pregnant!"

So, begins the journey of planning, re-arranging rooms, with 7 kids in the house, and especially names (since we are running out of names). We name her Genevieve because I can only produce girls.

The story takes a turn however, when we find ourselves in hospital dealing with a D&C after a miscarriage. We demand to see our daughter with little tiny nubs for fingers and toes, a mangled figure of tiny body parts in a small medical waste jar in the palms of our hands. The contents within the jar was our love, our responsibility, our supposed future.

How does one grasp the feeling that consumes you while holding your baby in a plastic jar?

As our story swerves, back on to the road of blissful thoughts, my wife comes back to me in a few months and says, "I'm pregnant again!" We are ecstatic that we are back on track. We have this wonderful being changing our lives again. Not having the proper time to grieve Genevieve we move our story faster into chaos of life's curvy roads. 

Nine months later a baby is born. Healthy, happy, everything intact and looks just like her mother. She is quite beautiful and perfect in every way. 

But, during our grieving process we never found an understanding, empathy for each others feelings, or dealt with anything really. We never resolved our feelings of that loss. One would think that you have a living child right here why are you concerned with the one that didn't make it? I struggled so terribly hard because I had no chemical paternal connection to this beautiful baby. Not telling anyone I never felt like I did with the other kids. That weird absolute connection with your child. I beat myself up because I kept pulling away from her not showing her attention nor being around her. I'm not that type of father normally, so I'm judging myself so harshly. WHY are you like this? What's wrong with you? 

So, the story takes us down a path to a now divorced couple and two children to co-parent amongst our other children. I still never get that connection to her like I so badly want to, will power did bring me to love her, but I was seriously off. I kept thinking about Genevieve's sacrifice to her little sister. If she would have made it full term this baby would have never been conceived. I was feeling horribly selfish and bitter inside. So, a year passes, I meet my ex at a fast food place to talk. Not many words were said but she knew, she could read me without any conversation. She reaches into her bag and shows me a piece of paper on one side it had 60% on it, the other had 97%. I was the 60. I don't remember much of that conversation afterwards. 

I am not angry, furious, nor sad. I am proud of my Genevieve. Feeling her spirit wash over me every year that her sacrifice of life is given so that another can live a wonderful life with her mother and father. I think of her as a "Shero." My baby in that jar taught me to forgive, taught me to feel again, taught me to understand, but most of all taught me Empathy.  

So, WHEN LIFE gives you empathy and you can truly feel someone else's pain or someone else's joy, embrace it, absorb it, and cherish where they are coming from. 

Submitted by: Allen

This is probably one of the most powerful stories that I have had submitted to date. First off, the picture included, was one that he sent to me with his story. I think it is so sweet and so perfect for what he describes in his loss. But, what I really love about this story is the point of view. While I understand the place he was coming from in writing this was "empathy," I am drawn in most by this being a father sharing HIS story. His viewpoint on loss and what having a miscarriage feels like was what pulled a trigger in me. I have been there before. Jack was my first child after my miscarriage. 

Allen, I think that you are so brave to share your story. It may not seem like a big deal, but more often than not, people want to just not talk about this type of loss. Compound that with the other complexities of your story, and I just find your openness to talk and share your experience very moving. I agree with you, when you can understand where someone is coming from, no matter the experience, because you have once lived it, embrace it fully.


Much Love,

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