For the love of the wounded

The other night, we were watching an episode of House. As is common with House, the plot involved a patient with some weird medical problem; in this case, a five-year-old girl. Within the first two minutes the little girl received a monster-sized shot, then began seeing double. Her eyes welled up as she realized what was happening – a frantic look settling on her face.

She was scared. She was about to cry.

We changed the channel.

“I don’t think I can watch this,” I said.

“Thank you,” Kerrie replied.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that my heart has become a lot more tender since Sierra showed up. I am more connected to children, genuinely caring about their well being and enjoying my time with them. I feel like a father – not just to Sierra, but in a more general sense. Even more, I feel hopeless when I’m unable to help – when some little kid around Sierra’s age is sad, I begin to take those feelings on myself. I mean, genuinely sad – not temper tantrum emotions, but true seemingly grief-filled sobs.

Unfortunately, this fatherly tenderness has bled into other walks of life. Case in point: I’m suddenly more sensitive to the plight of toddler-aged characters on television.

Another example. There’s an ad for a national wireless company that features a mom who is hosting her daughter’s birthday party. Because the woman doesn’t use said wireless company, she missed a call informing her that her clown was going to be a scary monster.

The monster walks into the room. One little girl starts to cry on screen.

And it bothers me every time.

Open up my heart, why don’t you. Stab it with barbed wire, show me drowned kittens, do whatever you think it takes to get my emotions into a crumbling pile of broken parts.

Just don’t get me around a crying little girl. That’s too much for me right now.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 13th, 2008