Writing is difficult this week. A dear family member is going through a rough patch, and it is hard to concentrate in between prayers and telling myself that since I can’t do anything, I shall try to lovingly detach.
Yeah. That’s only the hardest thing in the world, as all you loving detachers know.
Life is unfair. Have you noticed?
It does not matter how well you behave, or if you follow what you believe is the one true faith to the letter, or if you brush and floss every day.
Life has an amoral insouciance – “light hearted unconcern” according to my Webster’s Ninth Collegiate, which in a moment of the dyslexic mischief that seems to be happening more and more as I age I read as a “light hearted unicorn.” Now we’re talking. Light hearted unicorns! Bring on the elves and fairies!
Wait. Where was I?
Oh, yes. Life’s amoral insouciance.
Everything does not happen for a reason.
If God has a plan, I am not in on it, because it seems to me that most of what happens around here is pretty random.
I thought about this randomness a lot during the AIDS years, in the 80s and early 90s. The HIV virus has no morality – it is a virus that, like the boll weevil, is looking for a home. In those days when it found a home, it killed its host. It still does, if the infected person is not treated with the miracle drugs that prolong people’s lives.
By the mid-90s when those miracle drugs began to arrive, and people facing death sentences began to realize that they were not going to die so soon after all, it was like the world turned upside down. Now instead of dying from the illnesses and infections they couldn’t fight because they had autoimmune deficiency syndrome – AIDS – they were people living with HIV.
Don’t kid yourself. AIDS is not gone, even if its news cycle is. The Center for Disease Control’s current statistics are not comforting. By their reckoning, 38,739 people were diagnosed as being infected with HIV in the United States in 2017. At the end of 2015, about 1.1 million people in the United States had HIV, and about 15 percent of those people did not know they were infected. Around the world about 36.9 million people were living with HIV in 2017, but only 21.7 million of them were receiving medicines to treat it. Close to a million people die of AIDS related illnesses every year. We don’t run around squawking about it like hysterical chickens anymore. We save that for ebola.
But I think of all the people who wasted away and suffered and died before those drugs came along, including three guys I knew in high school. Cut down in their youth. That was so unfair.
The other side of the unfairness is that things are sometimes exceptionally and undeservedly, great.
The day my second son was born I felt like the wealthiest person in the world. I could not imagine wanting for anything more.
Granted, I was also too stupefied by hormones to move. In caveman days I would have been easy fodder for the first passing panther, but that is idle speculation. It was 1985, I was at Swedish Hospital, and there was nary a panther prowling the halls. The worst thing that happened that day was missing the ferry we tried to catch home, which we thought was appropriate for an island child starting life.
I inherited some money once from an aunt and uncle who never had children. I did nothing to earn or deserve that windfall. I just happened to be born the niece of my aunt and uncle. Was that fair? I don’t think so, but we were poor, so we whooped and cheered and accepted our good fortune.
I invested my inheritance and drew on it for the next few years to, as Rick said, cling to the soft white underbelly of the middle class. The kids got to have a comfortable childhood, and we got to travel, just a little. It was nice, while it lasted.
Except for my constant worry that I’d lose it, so it was kind of a relief when it was all gone. I don’t think I was cut out to have money.
I was blessed in many other ways in this life. Rick loved me, and I loved him, and we had more than thirty-four years together. That was more than I expected to have in life.
I need to get back to my prayers for my dear one. Blessings to you all. May life be unfair to you in good ways!