Love and Empathy: What We Need
I held my oldest and we cried together. It has been a tough day.
After the girls left for school, I went to do my usual chores of feeding the “farm” animals. As I entered the horse area, I noticed Story, my oldest daughter’s horse, was lame; she could not put any weight on her front left foot. After an initial evaluation, I realized Story had swelling at her fetlock. I called the vet, scheduled the appointment for early afternoon, and went to pick up my daughter from school.
My daughter purchased Story with her own money about 15 months ago. When she was 9 years old, she said she wanted a horse. We told her if she wanted a horse, she would have to buy it herself. We explained that she would need about $3,000 saved and a steady income of about $250 per month, to afford a horse in our backyard (we live in an area zoned for horse property).
Shortly after our conversation, she started a dog bone business, making homemade dog treats and selling them to friends, family, and eventually online (Joyful Bone). She saved her earnings, as well as most of her birthday and holiday money, until she could afford her dream.
Three years later, she achieved her goal and, in August, 2015, she purchased Story, as well as all the materials necessary to build a corral in our yard. Of course, she loves Story tremendously because she is not only her horse, but she earned her.
The vet did a full exam, including an ultrasound, and diagnosed her with a torn proximal suspensory ligament. She told us she should heal, but it would take time – as much as a year with no riding.
After the vet left, my daughter curled up in a ball on the couch, tears running down her cheeks. I felt overwhelmed by her sadness. As a parent, I hate to see my child so tremendously sad. I thought, “I need to cheer her up. I should tell her, ‘Everything will be okay’ and ‘It could be worse, at least she’ll heal eventually.’” But, I knew my words could not remove her sadness that she felt in that moment.
Instead, I put my arms around her and cried with her. She could feel my love and empathy, instead of my need to make it “right” (which I couldn’t do anyway). Eventually, we dried our tears and continued with the day.
Empathy and love doesn't "fix" the problem, but provides the support that we need to move forward out of the depth of the sadness.