I have always been an empath, and yesterday I learned the depth and breadth of it. I was reading an article about Kayla Mueller, and as I sat there, I studied the face that launched a thousand ships. We’d been trying to rescue her for so long that she’d been mostly forgotten in the news. A footnote as the months went by…………. until yesterday. I realized just how long she’d been in captivity, and the range of emotions that everyone involved must be feeling.
It was similar to what would have happened if the movie Argo hadn’t gotten to end with a piece of music called “Clearing Iranian Airspace.” I’m listening to it, channeling the peace of the violins toward the eternal flame that is her personality. She leapt off the page for me, an aid worker with no fear and a sacred sense of what was laid at her feet. I can only hope that I show a quarter of that kind of courage on this web site. It is people that are capable of these gargantuan feats that get me out of bed in the morning, excited to start my day. There are others like me, so sensitive that they want to save the world and get frustrated when they simply cannot.
Which is why I am sympathetic to the plight of all the people who hung their heads in grief yesterday. I do the same thing when I alienate people with my own behavior. I cannot even imagine the type of grief that something like this would trigger, but I can imagine a fraction of it. I have been the Lanagan Search & Rescue operation since before I could drive. People’s emotions wreck me. I have mentioned before that it’s the worst in large crowds, when there are too many people in pain and not enough ability to clinically separate unless I properly prepare for “battle.” By this, I do not mean that I am itching for a fight. I mean that it is a struggle not to cry when I see service members in uniform, or couples fighting and I can tell within 30 seconds what each of them is trying to say in body language and fucking it up with words.
So, I sat at my computer with the story of Kayla Mueller’s life writ large on my 17-inch iMac and tears of loss inched down my face. Dana came up behind me and kissed my head. “You didn’t lose her, Leslie.” I know it. I’m just not capable of clinical separation.