The Frailty of Fair

We’ve talked a great deal about the concept of fair of late. An odd word, fair. If you look it up in the dictionary you will find it has nearly seven times as many definitions as it has letters. The one that pertains to our conversation is:

conforming with the established rules.

Children all over the world cry daily, “That’s not fair!” I have a daughter who has a justice meter and feels that everything should line up equally. If things do not, she will protest the unfairness of the situation. She gets that from my lovely wife whose righteous indignation will rise at anything wrongfully appropriated. Things must be fair.

But they aren’t, are they?

Fair is a myth. Oh, we try. We make rules and establish laws to make things as fair as humanly possible. But there is something bigger at play. There is an overarching fairness that we can’t comprehend. When we put things in their cosmic proportion, we can make things as equitable as we want to and they will never be fair – because we are not in control.

Tell the orderly little ant about fairness when he is marching in the line, doing his job and he watches fifteen of his co-laborers get stepped on by the careless human. Sometimes, I feel like that ant. I’ve seen the footfall of God land on someone I love. His concept of fair is different than mine.

It isn’t fair that Kylie got cancer. No one can explain how it happened. They told us that somewhere along the line a gene mutated and boom, a tumor appeared. Random. It isn’t fair that she started doing so well only to fall victim to the silent spread of the disease. Likewise unfair is that she had ten torturous months of treatment.

While she was in treatment, she met a housekeeper in the hospital whom she loved. Ms. Nikki made her smile. Whenever Nikki came in to do her job, she made it a point to talk to Kylie, encourage her, and always seemed to find a way to make her laugh. She was sunshine on many awful cloudy days. Early on, Nikki and I started doing a “Going Home” dance together on discharge days. I assure you, she was a much better dancer than me and Kylie always wanted to find her before we left so she wouldn’t have to endure my solo.

Kylie with her friend Ms. Nicki
Kylie with her friend Ms. Nikki

On a trip with her children recently, Nikki’s car was struck by two cars going in excess of one hundred miles an hour. Two of her children were ejected from the car and killed on the scene. The third died at the hospital a few days later. In an instant, the wonderful Ms. Nikki lost the three things most precious to her because of someone else’s carelessness. Where is fair?

Death is never fair – be it instantly or after a long illness. It leaves too much pain and too many jagged edges.

My heart cries out for Nikki – for her loss, her pain. While I am grieving my own loss, I cannot imagine hers. I pray for a peace that seems as unattainable as fairness in this broken place.

I wish I could make things fair. I never will be able to, neither will you. The only thing we can do is love those we are tied to as long as we are here and as long as they are here with us.


Thank you to those who helped Kylie’s friend Nikki

Death at a Distance

I saw someone’s Facebook status today:



And I was immediately struck with anger.

At first, I wasn’t sure quite why. I get what they meant. It seems like Ebola’s everywhere! It’s constantly on the news, all over the internet, and everyone’s talking about it. It makes sense to be sick of hearing about it.  We’re bound to get sick of hearing about anything that much!

But still, I couldn’t shake the discomfort that rung in my head over that status. Ebola seems far away, after all, it’s only been diagnosed four times in the US. It’s easy to tuck it away in your mind as something distant that doesn’t affect you and forget why it’s a big deal.

It’s even become a hot topic for jokes on social media:

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Because so many see this very real disease as a far away concept, we find safety in our distance and it’s easy to make light of it.

But guys….



4,877 deaths. 9,935 sufferers. That’s not funny. That’s not something to ask to “omg shut up.”

The idea of disease never really hit home for me until my little sister was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, Ebola and cancer are two very different things. But I know what it’s like to watch someone I love very dearly suffer. I know what it’s like to hold my sister’s hand while she cries because she can’t escape the pain or the fear that comes with her disease. I know what it’s like to cry myself to sleep begging God to take her illness away. And I can’t help but imagine a sister somewhere in Africa in a situation very similar to my own, watching her loved one suffer, hearing her cries, and begging for it to all be over- but without the blessings of medicine and technology that my sister has access to.

We are quick to throw on our pink gear for breast cancer awareness and dump ice on our head for ALS because that kind of awareness is fun and easy. I’m not trying to diminish those causes- they are great causes that deserve promotion. But I mean to make note of the fact that when another very real disease with very real consequences is brought to light and gains awareness, people groan that it’s in the news again and make jokes about it on the internet. Because Ebola doesn’t have the fun and cute promotional package, we complain and make light of it and its need for awareness and a solution.

People are suffering and dying from Ebola. Just because that suffering seems far away, doesn’t make it any less significant.


This is a guest post from my oldest daughter, Meredith. I begged her to let me post it.