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“What is the most important thing you learned from that experience?” That is the question I am asked most often about witnessing the passing of my twin babies in 2013. It sounds crass, but I am glad people ask.

The level of spiritual growth that my daughters’ deaths have brought me is very difficult to explain. But my answer to the question above is undeniably…compassion.

The truth is, I don’t think I ever lived as a fully sentient being before that. I didn’t embrace the true nature of life — one of constant duality rocking between darkness and light – until I looked down the barrel of the figurative gun that took my life away in those precious moments I held my babies while they left this world.

After that traumatic, yet powerful, experience I never looked at humans the same way again.

Though what I had gone through brought me a whirlwind of physical and emotional pain, enough to last a lifetime, instead of becoming endlessly numb I became keenly aware of the suffering I felt in others. I saw it in their body language, I heard it in their words, I felt it in their energy, but their eyes were always what gave them away. Later, I learned it was just recognition. For some unfathomable reason, and most unwillingly, I had become the newest member in a club I never knew existed. And I was meeting new members.

I’ve always been an empath, but it was different now. I reached a new level of awareness that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I would walk into a store and become struck by an energy that floated around dismally like a heavy fog. As I made my way through the store, I would inevitably find the source lingering down an aisle, and I’d wonder, “What’s your story?”

Though I would’ve much rather run away, and I often did, it became easier to just witness the other human. And on occasion I’d find someone who was willing to look at me. As our eyes would meet, just for a moment we would recognize our common path of heartache. You see, you can’t hide these things from people who have been touched by deep grief and despair. You can heal your scars, but those scars borne by your heart are part of the person you become. And it’s ok.

My discomfort in these encounters lessened as I realized we are just two pebbles on a beach weathering the same tides and the same storms. I learned that we all have a story. I learned that we all suffer. Compassion is just one human witnessing another. I see you.

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Tina Kolniak
Tina Kolniak holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Juris Doctor. She is a lifelong spirituality enthusiast and has a deep interest in the mind/body/spirit connection. She is currently working on her first book. She lives with her husband, two daughters and Italian Greyhound. You may contact her at tinaloveslife888@gmail.com and visit her on Facebook.

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