The word for this day February 20, 2015 is COMPASSION. We all are aware of what the meaning of that word is. If you go to Thesaurus.com, you will see the definition: “A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” There are words that echo the feeling of compassion such as: Sympathy, benevolence, empathy, agape (early christians used this to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity), and humaneness. It is a word that I have been familiar with since I was a little one. Maybe it was not the word that I used, but the feeling inside and need to change things for people was engraved on my heart.
The minimum age to be a Candy Striper at my local hospital was fourteen at that time. That was the beginning of what would be my destiny. My desire to help people only grew from my experiences there. As a Licensed Vocational Nurse I knew there was more. My days in school would not stop soon. From an LVN to an RN, from an RN to a Physician Assistant. The driving force for me was compassion. I believed that everyone was given the same passion to lend themselves to every opportunity to make a difference is somebody’s life. I was so wrong.
Most of the time when others are rude or thoughtless when it comes to ourselves, we can ignore it, just let it go. It is when their behavior toward my child gives them pain that the ‘mother tiger’ comes out in me. My youngest child, Alex, was a sweet and funny little boy who happened to be born with chronic illnesses. There wasn’t anything outwardly visible that would let anyone know that he was sick. From preschool until he graduated from high school, he missed many days of school. His teacher and I became close throughout the year with many lectures about how necessary it was that he be in school everyday, and me answering by telling them that he just spent three days in the hospital or was sick at home per doctor’s orders. He always kept his grades up.
There was a time that Alex was scheduled for a surgery, one of many, and I heard of a specialist in the field that we needed. He had written most of the books about this problem that Alex had and I was determined to have him do this surgery. Kaiser insisted that they had their own doctors that knew the procedure well. At my last exhausting meeting, in my own desperate voice I told them that I was trying to save my son’s life or at least to extend his years on this earth. The woman sitting across the table from me told me that I was being ‘dramatic.’ Those words struck my heart and until the end of that meeting, my insides were at a slow burn. How dare she? I was a mother fighting for her child.
As he grew older and more independent, he became sicker and people became more difficult to deal with not understanding how ill he was. When he started driving and would park in the space for the disabled, some would yell at him, “You don’t look sick to me. Save that space for somebody that needs it.” If they only knew half of what that boy was going through and the pain that he suffered daily, would they say it then?
Taking him to the emergency room was another humiliation for him. When he was about twelve years old, he was flagged as a ‘drug seeker’ because of the many times he went in. But eventually after a couple of visits, he would be admitted and found to have a real problem like a severe bleed in need of transfusions, or a bowel obstruction caused by the adhesions from the multiple surgeries.
Once while I was standing with him in line at the pharmacy, a woman turned around and told Alex that she could smell smoke on him. This was just after we had been told by his doctor that he was eligible for hospice, and he was not smoking! He told her that he was not smoking and told him she hoped he would die. These are a few of the horrible instances that my sweet boy suffered while trying to fight his poor health. Our world needs more compassion. I hope that what I am writing here today will make at least one person take note and think twice before they speak. Nobody knows what is going on with that other person that is making you angry. Compassion is the word for today and everyday!