about compassionpublished: 2017-12-30
Every year, I organise a ladies & friends Christmas drinks. I inject a word into the evening. Once, it was the word ‘connection’. And ‘faith’ too. This year I said: ‘compassion’.
While preparing for the party, I like to sit down and write something about the word. Usually things come up effortlessly. This year my page remained blank.
I read up on what others had to say about compassion. Einstein, Didion, Buddha, the Bible.
But what did I have to say? I didn’t know. And so I asked the others what the word meant to them.
A dear friend of mine died this year. We shared the closeness of years, the intimacy of her fight against her disease, the faith while sitting beside her bed, day after day, year after year.
We tried to understand.
A year before she died, she sat across from me in my studio. She had placed herself carefully on the edge of the couch, so as not to pressure her leg which had a tumor in it the size of a rugby ball. She was excited and we were going to paint. She said, “I have always felt a strong connection with you.”
A few months later, I shared a dark and difficult moment with her. I shouldn’t have.
She stepped away from our friendship, from me.
And then she died.
Friends and her family chose to exclude me.
Yesterday, during the party one of the ladies said: “to me, compassion is sharing the burden. It’s in a small gesture.”
How do I share the burden of loss? Of unrepairable mistakes?
In a small gesture to myself. And to her.