Always Real

Fierce Tears

Recently Sean came home from school with a new expression:  It’s not fair!

I don’t know what particular injustice he was referring to but I sat him down, looked long and deep into his eyes and confirmed his assertion:  Life is not fair.

I told him that if life was fair, he would have a whole lot less and those with less would have a whole lot more.  I told him the sooner that he could accept and embrace this fact, that life was not fair, the better his life would be.

I don’t really expect that to happen right away since it has not happened for me yet, but it is my duty as his parent to encourage him along this road nonetheless.  I expect we will have this conversation a number of times over in the coming years.

I thought about that moment the other day, about how unfair life is. And I wanted to rage against it with fierce tears.  I was sitting in an oncology office surrounded by young women wearing ill-fitting wigs and frail old people with ports in their legs and even a young pregnant lady with a five-year-old.

I was there to see a hematologist about a stubborn iron deficiency.  I sat amongst this unfortunate and odd collection of beings as I waited to have my blood drawn.  I tried to focus on the black words on the white page of the book I had brought with me, but fragments of conversation floated through the air like a radio that keeps wandering off the station.  The static and the fading in and fading out interrupted the simple task of decoding the words.

So rather than read the words, I merely looked at them.  I looked at the words so that I wouldn’t look across the hall to see the recliners with IV poles waiting for the next chemo patient.  And when I couldn’t look at the words any longer I looked at the sparkly red Dorothy shoes of the little girl sitting across from me, patiently swinging her dangling feet.

They called my name. They drew five gallons of blood from my arm. The transaction was efficient and professional, but the tech, she never looked at me.  She likely thought  no more or no less of me than the patient before me or the one to follow.  I know why.  I was then sent to another part of the maze to see the doctor who would interpret the results.

My news was mostly good. Manageable. I had built up quite a bit of anxiety in anticipation of the visit to this doctor, but all was well, or at least manageable.  Manageable is reason enough to celebrate.  Everyone there was praying for manageable.

As I walked out of the office, I walked past the blood lab and past the chemo room. The little girl with the sparkly red shoes was still there, still swinging her feet.

I watched my own feet as I walked away.  I rode the elevator down and exited the building and I waited to feel.

I got in my car and shut the world away.  And then I put my head on the steering wheel and cried fierce tears for young women in wigs and because life is not fair.

46 thoughts on “Fierce Tears

  1. I taught my 7 yr old son that life’s not fair when he was about 3. I’ve said it over and over, simply because life is NOT fair, and we have to learn to live with that. I’d rather he learn this young and realize it, than carry a chip on his shoulder for the rest of his life. And with the many tragedies he has sadly seen in his short life thanks to the war and its effect on our lives personally, it’s been a bitter lesson to swallow how unfair it can be…. So yes, Sean will be better off learning this now…

  2. Yes, that whole “life isn’t fair” thing is a hard pill to swallow. I’m 44 years old, and it still makes me mad sometimes. We have an expression in my family…”there is no Fair Fairy”. 🙂

  3. This post just struck a nerve and is making me cry. Most of last week was spent in Phoenix Children’s Hospital with my just-about-to-turn 3 yr. old son. I hated seeing him attached to all those machines, him having trouble sucking his thumb (for comfort) because that is where they decided to stick the IV. Hated holding him as he screamed when they tried to draw blood because his IV kept having problems. But also knowing that he was well taken care of, that there are blood donors out there who know life isn’t fair, so they do their part to help. And when life didn’t seem fair…God sent angels (in forms of friends, nurses, texts, and phone calls) to help deal with the pain.
    I know this is a long comment. Just wanted to add one last detail: we got home in time to celebrate his b-day, and we have a follow up appt. with his hemotologist tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well.

  4. You know, when I was younger I had so many answers and everything made sense. The older I get the less I know and understand. I guess since this life is all we know it seems like everything. I just went through a life threatening experience, ended up with a transfusion and surgery and was generally not too happy about it. But I keep telling myself it could have been so much worse, be thankful. I guess that is the substance of our faith, the belief that there is so much more than our turn on earth. But it is so dang hard down here and so not fair. . . love and prayers to you, Jenny. Sending AM and Sean hugs . . .

  5. Amazing post! Beautifully written. Made poignant and universal in all its specifics. Maybe it especially touched a chord for me because I had about 5 gallons of blood drawn today too. I stopped by via Scribbit and am so glad I did.

    On a lighter note, my ever wise mother-in-law loves to respond to kids whining “that’s not fair” by saying, “Fair’s where you go to see the pigs.” (She was raised on a farm.) 🙂

  6. We have just celebrated our “anniversary.” It’s been 5 years since my husband’s stroke that changed our lives forever. Unfair? Sure. But that IS life and life goes on. So hard for a child to grasp…hard even for adults! Who knew there would be so many tears???

  7. Thanks for having quiet compassion on those in the oncology wing. My MIL lost her battle with the oncology wing two years ago next week. They need compassion.

  8. Just last night I wrote a post about expectations and disappointment. Yesterday I really felt a grudge against the universe b/c life is unfair.

    And when I was writing the post, which I intended to be something about expectations we set as parents, both for ourselves, and our children, the post turned into something different.

    I was reminded that today is Good Friday, when the God of the universe went to the cross to die a painful death, alone and despised, even though He actually had done nothing wrong. And He did it for me. And for every other person. And that really isn’t fair. Because of what He did, that He did not need to do, I am able to accept His perfection as my own. Talk about unfair! I get paradise, in spite of my failures.

    Thank goodness life is unfair.

    (Of course, that didn’t stop me from railing against the unfairness I felt that I was experiencing yesterday. I chalk it up to the extreme tiredness of having a toddler and a newborn.)

  9. Thank you – for the wonderful reminder, the great commenters, and the renewed support and confidence that you impart so beautifully. Happy Easter weekend 🙂
    (And a special thank you to Jenny who reminded me that even tho donating platelets is not very comfortable, scheduling that appointment DOES change someone’s life for the better)

  10. There are moments when all we can say is “I don’t understand.”, but then we just take the next step forward trusting in Him.

  11. You have such a way of expressing your feelings through your words. Thanks for the post, it was beautiful and very thought provoking!

  12. I always quote The Princess Bride to my kids. “Life is pain…anyone who tells you something else is trying to sell you something.”

    I’m so very glad that your thing is manageable. And that Sean is learning that life is unfair in a gentle manner. And that, as other people pointed out, today is a good day to remember that sometimes, we are very glad for this unfairness, that sometimes it works in our favor.

  13. I think we all know the truth; that life is not fair. I think not accepting that fact helps us make a difference… it’s part of the passion that enables us to make a difference. Blessings for a beautiful weekend.

  14. You are so gifted with words. Your ability to express such profound and deep emotions is a rich blessing. Well done. Blessed Easter to you and your family.

  15. I was weepy all day yesterday because of a phone conversation with a long-distance friend (in her 40s, single, 4 children) who is dying of cancer. I cried myself to sleep with those same fierce tears last night thinking about how unfair it all was, praying for wisdom on how to minister to her and how to be grateful and not feel guilty my own abundance of blessings.

  16. Your post was lovely as always, but it reminded me of a terribly sad moment. Five years ago last month, my beautiful friend Bevin, whose radiance and laughter I will always remember, was killed in a car accident at age 32. As we stood at her graveside in a driving wind, I clutched my husband’s arm and thought how much I had been looking forward to telling Bevin that I was newly pregnant. I thought what a travesty it was that she didn’t live to have her own children. And Bevin’s mother stood across from us, shaking her head. “No one ever said life was fair,” she said.

    I try to think of Bevin each Easter, and imagine her perfectly happy in a paradise where I hope to meet her again someday.

  17. You’re so very caring and kind.

    I have a love/hate relationship with that kind of reality that slaps you in the face. It causes me to further appreciate my blessings, but I hate measuring my blessings by someone else’s tragedy. It feels…..well, unfair.

    * * *
    Indeed Nette, indeed. All you can do is swallow hard and keep walking.

  18. Until Jesus comes again, life is fiercely unfair.

    But I’m still crying for you crying for the young women in wigs. And then I’ll cry some tears for the woman who lost a child unexpectedly. And then, because I’ll be all weepy, I’ll probably cry for the people who don’t have the hope of Christ.

  19. AM, I have sat in those same waiting rooms, steeling myself for the moment when my husband would be hooked up to the chemo drip. It is hard to look at all the families living out their own nightmare of unfairness. It hurts,and we weep.

    I used to throw bricks at God, red hot angry, at how unfair it was for my husband to have cancer. Selfishly, I thought that we were being picked on.

    Compassion is what we learn, hopefully, when life is unfair.

    Wonderful post, I was in that room with you.

  20. You handle life not being fair well.
    Anxiety, fears. Our inner self can be our worst and best friend.

    Kids on the other hand don’t have our tapes but they learn. They accept and they go on. Eventually most of them meet their inner self and hopefully hanle it.

  21. ((((((AM))))))) I have no words of comfort. But you are right. It’s not fair here. And it’s one thing I want to teach my son…even on the other side of Heaven it’s not fair. EVEN WHEN Jesus comes again, it will be unfair. Because we get so much then that we STILL don’t deserve. But the unfairness of this life is what should make us yearn for THAT life all the more. At least it does with me. In spite of all I have (much), in spite of all that I still yearn to witness here (my sons growing up), in spite of ALL that…I’d be okay with Jesus coming now. I’d be more than okay.

  22. I’m an oncology nurse and it’s really tough for me sometimes because I try very hard not to let myself grow calloused to everything I see around me. Right now I have a 23-year-old patient with a heart tumor who just had a C-section at 26 weeks. It’s hard to take care of her, but I hope I never get to be like the lab techs who didn’t even look at you.

  23. I was raised with the same assertion, that life’s not fair.

    But sometimes, when there is disease and there is desolation and desperation and death, I wish that it were a little more fair. Then I wonder: would I be willing to bear the burden of more ailments, of a shorter lifespan, so that we were all a little more equal?

    I wish I knew the answer to that.

  24. Thank the Lord for faith in a better place where there are no tears and for the grace in providing a way to get there. We aren’t home yet.

  25. I’ve been crying a lot lately because life is not fair. I’m so glad I serve the God of All Comfort, and that he lets me cry those fierce, angry, grieving tears against his shoulder. He even weeps with me.

    Thank you for speaking to my heart today…

  26. Of course life is not fair. It’s how you handle those bumps in the road that is important. People are watching, be an inspiration. A life that is sailed through is a life that is not remembered.

    I’ve seen from the inside that chemo room, but also the inspiration that lives there.

  27. This made me cry. My father died of cancer 3 years ago at age 51. My mom just finished chemo. She’s 54. Sometimes we can prevent such things, but sometimes we can’t. And only God can reveal the purpose.

  28. My mother has said those exact same words to me for many years. Not that I like them any more now, than I did 50 years ago.

    Life is not fair. My nephew’s friend was killed in a car crash last week. They were considering being roommates at college next year. Such a few weeks from graduation. A pastor is celebrating Easter with his congregation trying to make sense of him being here and his son celebrating in heaven.

  29. Thank you for sharing your tears with me…I needed a wake up call today. Sometimes God speaks to us through others. Thank you for passing along the message.

    As for life not being fair, my grown brothers and I (ages 39 to 43) all agree that one of the most important lessons Mom ever taught us, right up there with “God will always love you, and so will I” was the constantly repeated message “life’s not fair.” I’m so glad, for Sean’s sake, that you are teaching him that important lesson.

  30. The founder of World Vision said “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” I believe that God would have unfairness experienced become the seed of compassion, and that compassion would compel us, when possible, to do what we can to make life more fair.

    Not easy to have to start learning these lessons so young! You sound like an awesome mom!

  31. Oh, AM, I think this is the most achingest post I have ever read of yours. I would write more but I think I have finally realized that those tears and thoughts that come when I’m deeply moved don’t know how to talk! So, let me just say (in the weakest words possible) that I feel your pain.

  32. This was a hard post for me to read b/c of my cancer journey last year. It was so difficult on my kids, but they were strong and although they are forever changed, they are ok. I wish I could pat you on the back and say “It’s ok”.

  33. Indeed, life is not fair. My next-door neighbor was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at Christmastime and she underwent a double mastectomy. Her husband is deployed in Iraq and so she has to deal with this without him. He got a 2-week leave to be with her when she had her surgery, but he had to go back to Iraq last week. Her faith is strong and she is determined to beat this.
    She is an inspiration to me.
    I also have two other friends who have lost teenage children. Yes, indeed, life is not fair.

  34. Just received an update email on the young family of a former student of mine who died in a lake accident this past summer.
    I, too, want to cry “fierce tears” for the unfairness of life.
    Your post spoke perfectly what I have felt this evening.

  35. Oh, such heavy stuff!! I am dealing with this very topic today as I think of a woman I just learned about who needs a ton of prayer. She is a mother of four very small kids, she has terminal cancer, and the doctors don’t think she will survive past this summer. My heart is breaking for someone I don’t even know… Here is the link to read for yourself… Maybe we, sisters in Christ, can join together while “standing in the gap” for Maggie!!!

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