EMPATHY, at times, the shoes do not just fit

Aanu of Tech
5 min readSep 3, 2018

Oftentimes, we are quick to make such expressions as; ‘…putting myself in your shoes’ or ‘you should put yourself in their shoes…’ Do you know what I have come to realize? It is possible that after trying so hard to force your feet into those shoes, you might still not be able to understand from the other person’s point of view before your legs start to get numb from constriction in blood flow or you just end up dragging your feet along because those shoes won’t just fit. Even Wikipedia agrees that ‘Empathy is the capacity to place oneself in another’s position’. However, I believe that for you to actually empathize in the real sense of the word, you must have been in that same situation or a similar one at some point in your life because that is when you will be able to truly UNDERSTAND because, you might think you know but YOU REALLY DO NOT KNOW! Empathy goes farther than our imaginations and emotions. Talking about emotions- the fact that someone is relaying a tear provoking experiences they had and there you were tearing up just because you see them do so, does not mean you actually understand from their own point of view, that could result from mirroring- it helps the other person feel a sought of connection but this still does not fully explain the aspect of you understanding. It is this cognitive empathy I believe cannot be readily expressed by everyone.

The point I realized this…

Exactly one year ago, a certain reality dawned on me-the person I loved most in the world was gone and I was going to have to live with that but without her. This left me totally nonplussed and heartbroken that I never really liked to talk about it whenever the subject came up. I didn’t realize early enough that heartbreaks are not only associated with romantic relationships. Prior to my mom’s death, I had close friends and even family who have lost their moms around me, I would have sworn I understood what it felt like and I could feel their pain but really, it is nothing like it. All those times I said ‘I understand what you are going through’, I really did not. It took me having a similar experience to be able to understand.

It is one year today that my mother passed on and never has a day passed by without having memories of her. Every single meal, conversation and virtually anything at all reminded me her. At times, I wish I was the talkative type and had given her more gist, gone with her to those wedding parties she had simply asked me to follow her to but refused, taken more pictures together instead of waiting for times when the pictures would be perfect. I wish I had not waited to do so many things I have had in mind. I wish I had gotten her more gifts. I wish…

My Two cents

If your mother is still here, you are extremely lucky. Let her know how much she means to you, show her you care. Buy her gifts- it is not about how expensive the gifts are but the thought you put into it. Take pictures together, call her often, make her happy with you, and show her how much she means to you. If you have lost a mother, I know there is really no moving on from that fact, it is okay to cry, to not want to talk about it, to think about her. However, live on, and focus on becoming more, decide to be happy and know that God is always available to listen to you on the darkest days. So, when next it is Mothers’ Day, celebrate her memory, celebrate the mother figures you have in your life, celebrate yourself if you are still going to become a mother.

Lastly, do you know anyone who has lost a mother? Show them care. A mother is irreplaceable and “love doesn’t die when a person does”. When I become a mother or even a grandmother I would always remember mine. She would not know my children, they would not know her, and all I can do is tell them about how their grandmother was such a beautiful soul. Show them pictures maybe and that will be it. Sweetmama (that’s what I call her), you live on in our hearts and we miss you so much. We know you are in a better place. Below is a poem I wrote and a song which I always thought I would sing to her but never did…

All we have left

Only yesterday, you were fighting,

Only yesterday for the next breathe

Didn’t see the sun was setting already;

Or maybe we turned the other way

Dawn breaks, we stare at the blue sheet

Covering the sick bed that now lay empty

A good mother, a good person has left,

We struggle to hold on to what is left,

But what is left?

All we have left are the memories

Memories of keeping hopes against hopes

Of making promises to barter for a dear life

All we have left are the accouterments

Archived, as though they preserve your existence

All we have left are the lessons learnt,

Skills and beautiful genes passed on

All we have left are memories of the good times;

Awaking to an empty bed and an agile body,

Aroma of Akara and Pap saturating the air,

To the sweet realization it is a Saturday morning

All we have left are memories,

Memories held dear and cherished,

Till the resurrection morning

“Eagle When She Flies” by Dolly Parton

She’s been there, God knows, she’s been there
She has seen and done it all
She’s a woman, she knows how to
Dish it out or take it all
Her heart’s as soft as feathers
Still she weathers stormy skies
And she’s a sparrow when she’s broken
But she’s an eagle when she flies

A kaleidoscope of colors
You can toss her around and round
You can keep her in your vision
But you’ll never keep her down
She’s a lover, she’s a mother
She’s a friend and she’s a wife
And she’s a sparrow when she’s broken
But she’s an eagle when she flies

Gentle as the sweet magnolia
Strong as steel, her faith and pride
She’s an everlasting shoulder
She’s the leaning post of life
She hurts deep and when she weeps
She’s just as fragile as a child
And she’s a sparrow when she’s broken
But she’s an eagle when she flies

She’s a sparrow when she’s broken
But she’s an eagle when she flies
Oh, bless her, Lord
She’s an eagle when she flies