It just isn’t fair.
Life, I mean.
It isn’t fair at all.
Great good fortune comes to those who have done nothing to deserve it, while sorrow and pain come to so many who have done everything right.
This weekend finds me puzzling over the random effects of fate. I find myself swaying back and forth between sadness and joy.
Life is just so unfair.
On Friday afternoon, I found out that one of the students from my very first classroom died unexpectedly at the age of 17. I was shocked, but not surprised. I didn’t know him well. He was a part of my life for only nine short months, but he made a huge impact.
He was a boy whose intellect and mature vocabulary set him apart from his fifth grade peers, but whose heart and soul made him just like every other child. I remember him as argumentative, assertive, defiant. I remember him as tender and caring and sad. I remember that he was struggling on many levels, to find his place in the world.
He once brought a huge bag of popcorn to school for his snack. “People like popcorn,”, he told me seriously. “They’ll like me if I give them some.” He was so eager to find friends. He simply didn’t know how to go about it gracefully.
And I remember him on a class field trip. I had been stricken with my first bout of vertigo a few weeks before the trip, and had been struggling to feel secure in my footing ever since. On our field trip, this little eleven year old boy noticed me running my hand along the wall to feel more steady on my feet. “Put your hand on my arm”, he told me seriously. “If you hold onto me, you won’t feel dizzy.” I remember us walking the streets of Concord, Mass, looking at each historic site. I was explaining the history to the kids, keeping them engaged and organized. And all the while, my left hand was resting on the forearm of this defiant, angry boy, who stood like an anchor for me, keeping me on my feet.
Now he is gone.
I don’t know why. I never spoke to him after he left my classroom and moved out of state with his Mom. I have no way of knowing what difficulties he faced or what struggles he endured. I have no way of knowing how he came to such a terribly early end.
I just know that life is NOT FAIR.
Last night, after I came home from school and talked about the student who left us far too soon, I curled up in my bed and fell asleep. An hour or so later, I was awakened by the sound of a text coming in on my phone. I reached for my glasses, and propped myself up on an elbow.
“Mom!”, I read, “I got a free ticket to the Freshgrass show in town tonight! And your favorite band, the Duhks, is performing!” It was a message from my son, a boy as tender and caring as my student. “Thanks for showing me such great tunes!”, my boy enthused. “Love you!”
Life is so unfair.
Today I went to my mom’s house. We were planning to have lunch with our former neighbors, our dear friends from many years ago. The mother of the family is one of my Mom’s oldest and dearest friends. Her daughter is one of mine. My sister was joining us, and we were all geared up for a “ladies lunch” reunion.
It was wonderful. We laughed, we reminisced, we told funny stories from all of our lives. We talked about the days when my friend and my sister and I were very young. We remembered birthdays, and Halloweens and funny Christmas decorations. We laughed about our fixation on the Beatles, back in 1965, and our crushes on the local high school athletes.
We hugged and we smiled and we got a little teary.
On the long ride home, I thought about what it means to be a 58 year old woman who is blessed enough to have had lunch with a friend from first grade. I thought about what it means to have lived as long and as well as I have. To have a husband who is healthy and happy and still by my side. I thought about my children, so happy and whole and safe in lives that they love.
And I come back to my original thought.
It just isn’t fair.
I am blessed. I am lucky. I am not in any way deserving of the good fortune that continues to find me.
And I am sharply and sadly aware that others are not so lucky. I don’t know why some of us are here for such a fleeting time.
I just know that it really, truly, isn’t fair.