Just over two years ago my son had a mental breakdown and we had to commit him to a psychiatric hospital for inpatient treatment. He had debilitating depression and he wanted to kill himself. He was a mess. In the years before that he was fighting for his life through kidney failure, dialysis, and finally recovery from that and a kidney transplant.
During that time there wasn’t much space in his head for thinking about anyone else. His head was down and he was either expending his energy on surviving or trying to shut out the pain. There was absolutely no energy for compassion or empathy.
He is leap years ahead of his peers in life experience but he has been working on all of the other areas so over the last two years he’s made remarkable progress in catching up with his peers, socially and emotionally.
A couple of days ago, a woman name Susan died. She was a popular blogger, wicked smart, incredibly giving, and unusually sunny. She was particularly supportive of us sharing our family’s story of pediatric mental illness and she reached out to me many times over the last couple of years. When I read about her passing my son was in the room and I gasped and started to cry. He asked why I was crying and I told him and he asked more questions about her and her family. He was quiet.
When I picked him up from (his religious) school yesterday he told me that he asked the school to pray for her and her family and especially her sons, because he was “sure they were sad.” He told me he said she was a friend of mine from blogging. He was doing it for her boys, for sure but he also knew I would find comfort in his gesture.
It was such a tangible show of empathy from him that it nearly took my breath away.
It is possible that he has healed enough in his own journey to think about others in a way that we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever, really. Susan’s reach was far; you need only google her name/s or look on any social media channel and you will see her life represented from the thousands of people she touched.
I know personally her reach was far because somehow she reached my son and she never met him.