Monday, September 21, 2009
Life is Not Fair
Daring Daughter's favorite phrase appears to be "But that's not fair!" This is uttered frequently in response to anything her father or I do or say that is remotely not to her liking.
Trust me when I tell you that the child has it good. More than good. Exceptionally, spectacularly, tremendously great, in fact. We keep pointing out to her the ways in which her life is so wonderful, and model gratitude for the good things in our life. We are in good health, we have fine educations, we live in a nice home in a safe neighborhood free of nuclear waste dumps and roaming bands of zombies....
We are sitting pretty.
We talk to her about the ways in which others' lives are not fair.
Like a local high school teacher who died after a car hit him on his bicycle and then drove away.
Like a friend who lost his job and is struggling. Actually, we have several friends like that.
Like fabulously talented Hugh Laurie once again not receiving an Emmy award. WTF?!
Like a zillion other examples we share with her.
I don't pray very often for things (I do try to remember to offer prayers of gratitude when something goes right, because my Mom stressed the importance of thank you notes) but I am praying now:
Please, God, make this kid appreciate all the great things about her life and stop whining.
And yet, she has a point.
I was deeply saddened to learn this weekend that one of my blogging friends, Barry Fraser, author of An Explorer's View of Life, received some very bad news. He and his wife Linda have been valiantly dealing with his condition of esophageal cancer, fighting the disease with grace and humour. But the cancer has spread, and the doctor thinks it's incurable. Who knows if she's right? There are plenty of people who've been told such things, only to go on to get well and outlive their doctors.
I pray to God that's the case here. In fact, I'll take back my prayer about my daughter in order to give this one priority in the queue.
Barry is a great storyteller. He writes of his marriage, his beloved dog, Lindsay, of gardening, of life in Canada, his children, his grandchildren....all with vitality and fine wordcraft. I think the first post of his that I read was War Brides - Part 1. He told the tale of his parents' courtship. I was hooked. I continued to be a frequent reader. Then one day, months later, I read the news that Barry was having trouble with his throat. But the good news was that the doctor said it was an ulcer, not a tumour. Phew. I knew a friend who'd had cancer of the esophagus, and it had been scary. Thankfully, he'd recovered after treatment. But it certainly wasn't something I'd want anyone else to have to go through.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before Barry found that he actually DID have cancer. He's been undergoing treatment since March, and I'd hoped that he would get a clean bill of health soon. Although it was debilitating at times, the disease hadn't kept him from writing and enjoying walks and celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day. He knew that every day is to be treasured. And now this.
Thinking about him and his family, I feel like yelling as my daughter does.
God, that's not fair!
I know that we've all got to go some time, and at least Barry had many good healthy years. More years than my own Dad did. But although he's old enough to be my Dad, he's still a heck of a lot younger than I want to be when I get news like this. He doesn't deserve this situation in any way.
My heart is heavy.
I think it's precisely because of cases like this that I want so much to believe that there is more to life than just what we have here on Earth. Obviously, I haven't been able to find out for sure yet.
I know that we can create our own heaven and hell - a Paradise on Earth, if you will, (perhaps it looks like Paradise Inn, at Mt. Rainier, pictured below) but I don't know what happens after our bodies stop working.
I think in order to avoid going crazy about the undeniable fact that sometimes life is not fair, we must believe that there is an afterlife.
That doesn't mean we stop trying to make life better here for ourselves and others. But it does mean that we can take heart in knowing that when the day comes that we and our loved ones exit this life, there's something new waiting.
That sounds fair, doesn't it?