Friday, February 11, 2011


"They went without me."

My little girl looks so confused. And so, so hurt.

Things would work themselves out, I know. She'd be ok. But right now she is in so much pain, and it breaks my heart.

I also know that this will not be the last time she feels hurt. There will be more pain in her life. I want so much to protect her. I want so much to erase the anguish I see in her eyes. I want her to never feel the hurt she's feeling now. But there isn't much I can do. I can listen to her and hold her, but I can't take it away.

She'll get through it. She'll heal. Her heart will be scarred, but she'll emerge stronger than before.

There is a knock at the door. A woman stands there. She is going from house to house, and she's asking for money. I'm not sure how it happens, but before I know it, she's sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, unburdening her heart. I listen to her tales of abusive husband, troubled kids and poverty, and my heart breaks. There isn't much I can do to help her. But when she leaves, her steps seem lighter. And my heart is heavier.

I am waiting on line at the pharmacy today. A woman behind me comments on the price of cigarettes.

"I quit in 1973," she says. "Cigarettes were 65 cents a pack back then."

I make some polite sounds.

"I quit cold turkey," she continues. "It was hard. I cried a lot."

And then she starts to talk. She talks about some of her troubles...some of the things she's been through. The pain...the misery...the sorrow...the heartache.

I listen, and then I leave the store. And I take some of her pain with me.

So much pain. So much suffering. It's everywhere. It almost seems as though no one is immune.

And every time I listen to it, some of it remains with me.

I know there is a reason for it. I know there is a purpose. I know as well as anyone else how pain makes us it strengthens it makes us better people. I know all that.

But I can't take it anymore.

It's enough already.

No more. Please.


  1. It's hard being the kind of person that's a magnet for pain. These people recognize that you're kind, caring and will offer a much-needed listening ear so they grab onto it. It's essential though to have the ability to balance things, so that while the pain moves you, it doesn't ruin you.

    A lot of Gedolim say how hard it is to constantly hear about others' pain. I don't know how they do it but I imagine that living with Emunah means understanding that everything that happens is for the good, even the pain. Therefore, even though the present hurts and feeling for people in pain is okay (nosei b'ol im chaveiro), knowing that the whole picture is perfect should ease it so that you can hopefully move on.

    Let's hope that Moshiach comes really soon and brings a permanent end to all pain.

    [Incidentally, I recently read about something called "Mirror-touch synesthesia" wherein a person literally feels the pain that another person experiences (among other things). I doubt you have it but that concept does exist.]

  2. I think thats unusual. I have had to talk to ppl on several ocasions, and I usually feel like they hear me but forget all about it the minute they leave. Maybe ppl take advantage but please dont change.

  3. It's hard for many to go from one challenge to another. I've seen this and heard this. And it is hard to bare.
    I have a story of my experience. I know someone who has been through a lot, and so they were carriying that, plus more recent challenges. It was hard to bare it with them and I felt kind of down. I prayed to Hashem to help them and continued praying.
    Recently, the person told me that, after a long time, he can put the past behind him and feel like himself again Baruch Hashem
    there's hope

  4. What a touching post!

    Yes, there is so much pain in the world and each person experiences it on their own level. It's special of you to be able identify with and feel along with others pain no matter how small or big - because to each person their personal challenge is their whole world and it's hard for them.

    Yes, we need the pain to end!

  5. First off, last comment I made, I forgot the most important part. You write beautifully. Next, I am sorry for all the stories you hear. I stopped listening as much as I used to. Makes me hurt too much. I never forget it. It all molds me into who I am. I wish I can listen to it all because of the relief that it brings, but I am not one that handles it well. Yes, it has got to stop.

  6. You exhibit a strong degree of empathy, a middah that exemplifies humanity. We all consider ourselves empathetic to the plight of others, but are we really, truly empathetic? You, Mystery, are obviously is the real deal. But most of us are a tad lacking in that respect. When we say we "feel bad for someone", do we really "feel" bad? Is it a feeling? Or rather a "thought", where our minds understand how up-the-creek this person is, and we "think" that it must really suck to be their shoes... Point it, that true empathy shouldn't start and stop in our brain, it ought to go through our hearts and pierce our gut. Most of us, if we hear terrible news involving others, but personally are unscathed, we may think we "feel" bad, but the minute we head to our car and notice the bright orange ticket for being a foot too close to the hydrant, our mind automatically relegates that alleged "feeling" for our fellow man in pain, right to the back-burner, eclipsing it with rage toward that fat illiterate African American traffic cop for ruining our day....

    So your post is another example of why your blog serves as a meaningful conduit for us to learn how we should really FEEL another person's plight, you are a stellar example, exhibiting the most noble of traits...

    Thank you!