|Illustration by Harry Campbell|
This explains why my mother was unable to walk the streets of Manhattan without A, pockets full of spare change and B, sobbing. A bum in the street here, a bag lady in a doorway there--all total strangers of course-- caused Mom incredible grief. To put it in perspective, when President Kennedy, who she adored, was shot, Mom had to be hospitalized, so you can only imagine how she felt when the person in pain was someone she actually knew. (Don't ask.)
As you may suspect, this disease can be quite debilitating, as one tends to "get" whatever anyone else has, be it a genuine illness or just a messed-up life due to bad decision-making. It's a damn good thing I quit volunteering in a hospital last year; God only knows what I might have picked up. The worst part is that I don't seem to share any of the good stuff, like if the person comes into a lot of money or becomes lucky in love, I don't get any happier.
Besides wearing earplugs or not answering my phone, I'm powerless to change things and might as well invest heavily in Kleenex. If you hear of any way to get a total blood transplant, or maybe 100% new DNA, call me.