Holiday Heartache

December 21, 2007

My father dropped in unexpectedly yesterday. He wanted to show me a couple of photos he received in a Christmas card from my brother Frank, and his wife, Stephanie. The photos were of their daughters.

I looked at the first one, and commented on how pretty Kristen looked. I moved on to the second one, then looked again with widening eyes and dropping jaw. Rachel looks just like Rebecca did at that age.

My dad laughed at my double-take, and told me about his own reaction when he saw the picture of Rachel. He thought to himself, “Why did they send me a picture of Rebecca when she was a little girl?” According to my father, my grandmother reacted pretty much the same way.

Rebecca came into the room, and we showed her the photos. When she didn’t say anything other than “awww, how cute,” we asked her if Rachel reminded her of anybody. She said, “Me.” Honestly, the resemblance is uncanny.

While we were talking, I mentioned to my father that I had paid a visit to my niece, Meaghan, on Wednesday. I told him that, much to my disappointment, baby Brody was asleep for the entire visit. I then showed him a picture Meaghan had given me of Brody and his sister, Lilliana.

My father teared up. Brody is my brother’s grandson. Mark never got to see him.

My father and I then talked about Mark, and how much we miss him. We cried together.

This is a bit off topic, but relevant. I am an empath. Empaths are very sensitive to the feelings of others. I just recently discovered that my daughter, Rebecca, shares this trait. This revelation came to me in St. Patrick’s Cathedral the other day.

As we were walking up a side aisle, I experienced a tugging sensation (mental, not physical), and looked to my right. A nun was deep in prayer. The pain I felt coming from her took my breath away. Not physical pain, but emotional or spiritual pain. I didn’t say anything to Rebecca, and we continued on our way around the cathedral.

Then we came upon an altar dedicated to Mary. My eyes were immediately drawn to a kneeling man who had his face buried in his hands. His pain was almost palpable. It made my knees buckle. I had to get away. Before I could make a move, Rebecca said, “That man’s pain is getting to me.”

I looked at her in shock, and asked if she had had any other experiences like that during our time in the cathedral. She answered, “Well… there was a nun back there…” It was then that I knew. Like mother, like daughter.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that my father’s pain was suffocating me. I couldn’t stand it. Having to experience my own pain is bad enough but when I have to take on the pain of others, as well, it can be too much.

Song of the Day: Everybody Hurts  by R.E.M.

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5 Responses to “Holiday Heartache”

  1. LA said

    There’s a reason Ms Social Butterfly has chosen a career of isolation. Love you back! ~LA

  2. Although it must be exhausting to feel all the pain of others; hopefully you have found a way to help others get through their pain.
    So do you think the drink is helping with “your pain”? Did you have any soreness after your trip to NYC?
    Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

  3. yaketyyak said

    Monavie is definitely helping. I cleaned for six hours today, and, as I was doing my chores, I was DANCING around to the tunes on my ipod. Amazing!

  4. Joan said

    One of the reasons I went on effexor was because I would see someone who was hurting and I would let it ruin my day. I couldn’t get past it – I would think about them when I went to bed at night and it would upset me so much. Effexor allows me to “feel” for them, but appropriately, not obsessively.

  5. WCD said

    One of the hardest things about grieving is that we all do it differently and on our own timetable. And while we draw strength from one another it doesn’t make any of it easier. It’s healthy you can clearly see what you can handle and what you can’t.

    As a mother who’s lost a child, the idea that we have to bury our children first is overwhelming and horrifying at best. So I can identify with your father’s pain.

    I am hugging you gently from afar and hoping you have a better 2008.

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