Personhood

In looking ahead to the six-month mark since Christian’s birth, and then to the one-year mark, I’ve wondered how I can commemorate his short life – and, more importantly, how my life has changed since having him. So I have tried to pay special attention to the ways in which I’m different now than I was in March or April. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am more willing to believe that every person I encounter is really a person, a person who might be having the absolute worst day of his or her life. I say “believe” because intellectually, I already know that everyone is their own individual and has unique experiences – it’s something else to feel it and acknowledge it. This has made me, I hope, more patient and compassionate, in theory if not in practice.

What I’m thinking of doing, then, is asking my friends and family (and myself) to make an effort to spend Christian’s birthday believing that every person we encounter is really a person, and then treat each person as such. To not dismiss someone because of the way they dress, or where they work, or because I’m in a hurry and don’t want to expend energy being nice.

We still have more than 7 months until then (September 24 will be 5 months since Christian died), so maybe we can do some practice runs before then.

What are your thoughts?

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3 Comments on “Personhood”

  1. Nicole says:

    I love this idea, and I think it’s a wonderful way to honor Christian. About eight hours after we left the hospital when Grayson was born, I had to go back for a suspected blood clot. I was hurting (milk had just come in), and really emotional (hormones), and I was just sitting in the waiting room crying. I realized then that no one else knew what was going on with me at that minute. To them, I was just some chubby girl crying in the hospital ER. Since then, I’ve tried to do what you’re suggesting (although I’ve been incapable of stating it so eloquently). I really want to get past judging people and compartmentalizing them immediately, and past making assumptions about who they are based on the tiny space of interaction I have with them. Thanks for the great reminder.

  2. Wow this is perfect! This is totally something I’ve noticed too. I sit in my class or church and wonder if I’m really the only person there that is struggling, and I now know that is not that case. I think that is such a great way to honor Christian! I’m going to try to be more aware and understanding of what people may be going through. I’ll think of Christian as I’m doing it. You inspire me.

  3. samara says:

    I love this idea. I have been in a weird space about something similar lately. Maybe it has to do with spending all day with a lot of kids, but I’ve been looking at adults and really being aware that they were once kids. It’s happening with all manner of people I interact with, at the grocery store, on the bus, my friends. I get this wave of empathy and think, wow, that is REALLY REALLY someone who used to go to school, and play at recess, and went to prom, or didn’t go to prom, and I wonder what his or her teachers thought of them that year, and I wonder what kind of family they had growing up, and I wonder what they played with. It’s kind of awesome to think about strangers in such an intimate and familiar way. It can also be overwhelming and sends me spiraling.


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