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Sunday, 5 June 2011

EMPATHY

I was visiting a friend in hospital
when I saw her.
She was leaving as I entered
through the automatic doors.
Her eyes, swollen and red raw
from endless weeping, met mine
and in that instant
utter hopelessness gripped me,
flicking a trip switch
inside my head
to self-survival.
I had to escape -fast - from this sad
little creature and the disturbing
memories that were resurfacing
too vividly for comfort.
For the rest of the day
I was haunted by her image.
Feeling uneasy and restless,
I had to shut her firmly out of my mind.
It was the only way
I could move on with my life.
But it didn't protect me from the acute awareness
that I was leaving her
to suffer alone.

Things could have been so different though,
had my heart been more open that day.
I should have smiled and asked
if she was OK, opening a channel of compassion
so she could unload the crippling burden
she was struggling to bear.
I wish I'd had the courage to override
the fear of my own emotional reactions
and reach out to that tortured Soul
with empathy,
to have told her I understood
those devastating feelings of uselessness
and inadequacy, that awful sense of guilt
for disappointing husband and parents,
by inadvertently bringing to a close
two ancestral lines of descent.

I should have reassured her
that she wasn't alone in feeling
a freak, a female eunuch;
nor in despising her barren womb and wishing
she had been born a boy.
I could have told her it's only human
to fake illness to avoid going out,
where the sight of mothers with children
torment her beyond endurance;
so is feeling envious and resentful
when friends and relatives
fall pregnant so effortlessly
- over and over again - just like
everyone else eventually did
at the infertility clinic,
until she was the only one
still attending,
still valiantly attempting to cling to hope.

If I could only relive that day,
I would comfort her with the promise
that everything will eventually be OK,
that there is a reason (and a time)
for the fulfilment
of our deepest desires.
How can I possibly make such a promise?
Well
I am something of an expert
in this particular field,
because for ten demoralising years
I wore her shoes.

4 comments:

  1. Ygraine, A very moving write - I feel your sorrow, your regret. However, my empathy is most with this woman who doesn't cry but carries her sadness in her heart and from time to time the woman who does cry brings to life the pain she has hidden from the world :) Thank you for sharing my dear friend.

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  2. Thank you Rose. It's strange how, when we are confronted with someone else's pain, it brings our own up for resolution. It means so much that you understand :-)

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  3. this is a very likly poem thanks
    my blog link- "samrat bundelkhand"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Upendra, Thanks for your comment. It is much appreciated :-)

    ReplyDelete

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