Spanish Inquisitor tells a really touching story of a woman he met at a recent high school reunion. (He went to a Catholic school.)
I’m including a long excerpt below, but the whole story makes for a nice read:
… I was surprised when one girl… came into the room and grabbed me, said my name, and then “I want to give you a hug.” She grabbed me and squeezed me tight, holding on a bit longer, and a bit more forcefully, than I would have expected from someone I saw only five years earlier… When she stopped, and extended her arms, holding my shoulders, I realized who it was, but still didn’t know why I got the hug, until she told me.
“You sent me a beautiful card when my son died”, she said, and then I knew. I had forgotten that about 2-3 years ago, her only child, her son, was killed in an auto accident after a ski trip. I read about it in the local paper. I wasn’t close enough to call and intrude, but I did know her, and so I went out, got a card and sent it, I think with a little note of condolence. Then I forgot about it, as we all do when life intrudes, until I got that hug.
… the sympathy I felt for her in her time of loss was not something that arose because of my religious upbringing. I’ve been ruminating on it for the past two days, and I think it’s something deeper, something more primitive, that motivated me. It was concern for a fellow human being, someone I knew, but more than that, someone who had suffered a terrible loss I could imagine myself suffering, one I would not wish on my worst enemy. It was pure human empathy that caused me to do that.
… my motivations for reaching out to someone who was experiencing my greatest fear – losing a child – had nothing to do with religion, religious upbringing, or any sense of spirituality. It is a one on one human reaction to human loss. And while she may still be religious (she in fact mentioned that her faith helped her get through it) I really don’t believe her faith made her tell me how much it meant to her, thereby making me feel good about what I did. I think she felt compelled to tell me because she truly appreciated what I did, and knew that I would appreciate knowing that. Again, a human to human contact. At that moment we created a bond between us, one that will probably diminish with time, but will always be there.