A few weeks ago Scott was watching a spaghetti western on AMC while I was getting ready to go out on our weekly date. It was the typical Mexican robbers versus American good guys. Probably filmed in Southern Utah. Oh, there was also an Indian maiden, who was spying on both groups of men.
In one scene a good American cowboy said to a bad Mexican hombre, "Do you think I don't know what it's like to come home and find your wife and family dead?"
I smiled, and then I thought about the phrase, wrote it down, and I've thought a lot about this preposterous question! Take the negative out of the question and the statement becomes, "I know what it's like to come home and find my wife and family dead." Or to the Mexican - "You and I aren't so different from each other, but we've both lost loved ones while we've been away from home."
No, I don't know exactly what you may be feeling, but I have had experiences that may help me sympathize, perhaps even empathize with your situation. I don't know what it is like to lose a child to death, but I've lost an other-child to misunderstandings. I don't know what it's like to leave home and return home to no-one. Yet I've left home one person and came back another - and found my home a stranger, different than what I'd left. I don't know what it's like to lose a spouse, however I know what it's like to leave a spouse.
Sometimes I question the statement, "I know exactly how you feel." Goodness, perhaps it's semantics, but "know" and "exact" are quite precise concrete words, and can those of us who use this statement exactly know? How about rephrasing with, "Tell me more?" "I don't know, could you help me understand?" Perhaps, "Damn, what can I do?" Or even, "I have no idea what you're going through, but I'd like to learn."
The old saying, "Don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes," may be the best way of looking at the situation - cause for pause.
During my journey I haven't expected anyone I know to "know exactly" how I've felt, yet I'm pleased when someone asks for a walk around the block, or a day's ride, to bring about better understanding. It's been a surprise when someone comes along and says, with wife and family as the cancer metaphor: "Do you think I don't know what it's like to come home and find your wife and family dead?" And they really do -