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.