It isn’t fair.


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.

Me, Joanne, and Liz. Three lucky women.

Me, Joanne, and Liz.
Three lucky women.

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.

9 thoughts on “It isn’t fair.

  1. Wow! What an eloquent post. Thank you. As I write, I reminded that I recently learned of a friend’s death (cancer. He was 50) and am saying goodbye to a lot of things in life. So, this post aligns with the synchronous theme of death and endings. I wish there was an easier way to go through it and make sense of it. It helps to know everyone faces this. Hang in there.

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    • Thanks, Mandy! I am sorry for your loss. Life is just such a strange journey. I have been so incredibly lucky, and don’t know why. I guess it is important to remember that none of us really “earns” or is “deserving” of what life gives us. We just need to be grateful.
      Wishing you well! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Lol…it’s funny because when I was in the Army I had a Drill Sergeant whose favorite saying was, “it’s hard but it’s fair”. Of course he was always yelling it at the top of his lungs. But I understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from. Sometimes, life just seems to be so unpredictable and full of things that just don’t seem right. That old saying, “when it rain, it pours” come to mind. But ya know, all in all…we have to have something that keeps us grounded and focused so that we don’t drift into despair, cause it is so easy to do. I’ve been in and out of that place to often. In fact, I’ve stopped by Depression Dr., Loneliness Rd., and Pitty Party Cv., along the way.

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    • The strange thing for me is that I am completely on the lucky side of things. I have been so incredibly blessed and lucky, and I know that I’ve done nothing to deserve the good life that I have. A loving family, financial stability, good health, and most of all, three thriving and happy children. It isn’t for myself that I wonder about the unfairness, its for so many others.

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  3. Poignant post, Moms. And no, it’s not fair.

    I recently decided that I am going to stop Googling folks. I learned recently that one person I’d lost touch with had died (and I don’t know her family so I’ll never know what happened) and the daughter of a close high school friend committed suicide.

    So you’re right. Life just isn’t fair sometimes. But maybe that makes all of us appreciate what we have.

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    • It really does make us appreciate every day, Elyse! I am so profoundly humbled by my great good fortune. I hope that I never lose sight of the fact that I haven’t earned it; that it is in fact a pure stroke of luck, and I have to do my best to be worthy of it.

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  4. I have to say, your very first three lines drew me in effortlessly. We’ve all thought it after all, and more than likely we will continue to think it as time goes on.

    Such a wise post, and it really made me think about how fortunate I have been in life. It isn’t fair, and lately I have often been wishing that I could share my fortune with those in my life. While I haven’t always been as stable as I am now, I turned out well enough after some early struggles. Now though, it appears that more and more people are struggling around me, and I want to take that on for them. I know what it’s like, and I hate seeing others go through the same thing.

    Life isn’t fair, and no matter how much we will things to change, they always seem to remain the same.

    I truly am sorry to hear about your first student; and I wish for his soul and his family that he rest easy and in peace. Saying goodbye is never easy, but it’s the memories, no matter how painful remember can be, that help the transition.

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    • Thank you so much for this lovely comment! It is so helpful to know that I’m not alone in my impressions, and to realize that others understand what I mean when I try to explain these complex thoughts.
      I wish you continued good luck; I am happy that you and I both recognize our good fortune! I think it makes us more generous and more able to appreciate everything!

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