Empathy is a beautiful thing, yeah.
But it can bring you to tears.
And I guess that is kind of the point.
Good-grief, I find it amazing how we function on a daily basis – knowing that eternity stares back at us.
But my girlfriend, Lucy, whom I met in the first year of medical school (and who would later become my wife), understood the subtext of the academics. Her capacity to love was barely finite, and a lesson to me. One night on the sofa in my apartment, while studying the reams of wavy lines that make up EKGs, she puzzled over, then correctly identified, a fatal arrhythmia. All at once, it dawned on her and she began to cry: wherever this “practice EKG” had come from, the patient had not survived. The squiggly lines on that page were more than just lines; they were ventricular fibrillation deteriorating to asystole, and they could bring you to tears.
-Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (Amazon)