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one else in the family other than my girlfriend who was willing to move here and help her.”

He paused. “Her grandmother raised her because her mama is an alcoholic.”

Another heavy pause. “Anyway, we’ve dated for almost three years, and so I moved here, too, and together, we are trying to take care of her grandmother while she’s going through treatment.”

Dillon got a far away look in his eyes and clutched the fork. At that moment, he looked more like a 12 year old boy than a 21-year-old adult.

“It’s been really hard,” he continued. “I work as much as I can. My girlfriend helps me sometimes, but she stays home with her grandmother on the really bad days.”

And just like that, I forgot about the paint drip on the wall. He wasn’t a young painter any more to me. He was another human dealing with a significant issue. I tried to utter some comforting words, and I told him how much I admired him for helping in such a trying situation.

I was suddenly reminded that almost everyone is going through something — some crisis — whether it’s related to physical health, mental health, a death, a job, finances, family, relationships, spirituality, or something else entirely. So many of us are facing some traumatic event, or just faced some traumatic event, or are about to face some traumatic event. Everyone needs to exercise kindness, understanding, and support to those we pass by in our daily lives, because we just don’t know what people are managing in their lives.

I’ve heard it said that the cultivation of empathy is our true human work — something we’ll spend our entire adult lives trying to master and extend freely and lovingly to others. I hope Dillon felt my empathy. I hope he left that day knowing that at least one person in the world cares and is pulling for him.

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