I interrupt my regularly scheduled blog post programming with this:

em • pa • thy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Today the universe was telling me something. It was telling me to grieve just a little today. It was telling me to think of what I went through in the days leading up to April 19, 1999 and in the years since.

I have been subscribing to a Melanoma group email dating back to 1998 when my then boyfriend was first diagnosed with Melanoma. Needless to say all these years later I’ve never unsubscribed but rarely read the threads. I mostly just hit the delete button and carry on with my day. But today I read it. And a woman announced sadly that her husband Wayne lost his battle this morning. Wayne was diagnosed 14 years ago and I remember clearly trying to offer support although I was literally deep in my grief as I had only been widowed a year or so at that point. I’ve honestly not even thought of that couple since. So when I read the news today I was struck with an overwhelming feeling. The definition of empathy seems to describe my initial reaction. My eyes welled with tears. I knew in that moment what her next few hours, days, weeks, months and years would be like. I knew because I’ve lived it. Sometimes it’s frustrating to have feelings brought to the surface like that…especially that I’m so far down the road. But then I realize how important it is for me—and for her. I can help her when she might feel like nobody understands. I can help her see that she too can carry on and thrive in the future. And that makes my loss less painful and more understandable.

Every single day there is someone grieving over the loss of someone or something…the death of a loved one, a friendship that’s grown distant, a divorce, heck even a running injury that causes a race cancelation. We need to be empathetic where we can. I may not understand the grief felt by someone who’s lost a parent, or who is divorced, but I sure do understand the loss of a spouse to Melanoma.

So today I pulled out Dickey’s picture, kissed his forehead, told him I missed him and that he’s always with me and then I put that picture back in the box. I was meant to grieve just a little today…and I was meant to help others through my loss.

10156017_10203578143955880_3033698985117140879_nTomorrow I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled programming =)

Thanks for letting me share.

 

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives that we forget to pay attention to what other people are going through.

  2. Sally,

    I’m sending you the hugest virtual hug today. Melanoma took my first husband, albeit in a different way. He was diagnosed at Stage III right after we got married. About 8 months into his treatment, the immunotherapy meds he was taking (the docs believe) activated a latent gene for biplor disorder. His cancer did go into remission. After years of in and out of psychiatric treatment, his biplor symptoms were under control. However, our marriage didn’t survive it. I lost him and he was remarried with 2 children very quickly thereafter. I was left reeling.

    I learned so much from that time though. Exactly like you say, empathy can be the greatest ability we can develop and share with others. Now, even when someone cuts me off in traffic or is rude to me etc, I’m very aware that I have no idea what they’re going through in that moment. Everyone is dealing with some kind of personal struggle every day, I believe. Just acknowledging that has made me more compassionate in how I choose to live.

    Time does move on and we can thrive. I’m now married to a wonderful man who is artistic, funny, smart and caring. It took years for me to be even be ready to consider having someone else in my life. Running got me through the years I was alone, truthfully. I am so happy that you are where you are now. The loss remains but rather than being trapped in only missing what you lost, you can also treasure what you had. You are a positive, beautiful spirit inside and out and you’re inspiring so many through your blog. You have great times ahead of you and beautiful memories to carry with you.

    Be kind to yourself today,
    Ruth

    • Big virtual hug back to you Ruth!!! WOW! it’s only when I read comments like yours that I realize why I started this blog. Yes, I love to document my running and fun but I am always floored to feel such synergy among people I’ve never met in person. I always thought about the scenario of what if Dickey survived but couldn’t handle the unknown of if the cancer would come back. Or what if I couldn’t handle it and worried so much that it split us up. Thank you so much for your words today!

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