You don’t really need to put a lot of thought into it to understand that the belief that life should be fair causes more sorrow than virtually any other factor of our daily lives.

We had to put our cat Kenzie to sleep at the end of last week. There was nothing else to be done, not in fairness to her and her quality of life. She had been born with a birth defect that was going to limit the number of days she would be around to bring happiness to those about her. That was a fact, immutable and harsh. She did not have a full supply of intestine and that was enough to end her life way too soon.

Obviously, this has been very hard on Sheri and me. I hope you know how much a family pet can make difficult situations bearable, hard times less so. That would be a terrible thing to miss out on.

We got Kenzie from the Humane Association in October, just as, unbeknown to us, we were about to enter a difficult phase of my illness and life in general. Sheri had been ready to bring a new cat into our home much sooner, but I was resistant, still suffering from the loss of our Samantha. Still, it was time.

And what a great decision it was. There were times that having Kenzie in our home and in our lives made feeling bad, or sorry for ourselves, virtually impossible.

My point here is not to be maudlin. If you are a pet lover, you know only too well how disheartening the loss can be.

To me, the biggest issue with believing life should be fair is that it makes you think stupid thoughts, and if you can think ’em, you can say ’em. For example, Sheri has type 1 diabetes and I have an incurable form of cancer. We were doing OK with it, and we were able to bring in Kenzie to brighten our lives, and she did. Given that, does it seem fair to you that she would then be taken from us so soon? Does it seem fair to you that she was born without a genuine chance to grow old? Probably not. But, if I’m not looking for life to be fair, I’m not having these thoughts; I’m not saying these things.

My sense of hope has taken a battering lately. No matter what the doctors try, I feel nauseous every day. My wife struggles with her diabetes. And while the big things are hard enough to take, it’s the drip, drip, drip of the endless small things that can drive one daft.

How did you feel the last time you were trying to sleep and one of the faucets in the bathroom kept dripping, just one drop at a time? And it was a night when you were exhausted and couldn’t stop thinking and every “bad” thing you had ever done picked that night to show up for your nightly thought parade. Each and every loss, big or small, showed up right in your face. “Think about me!” “Hey, remember me? Wasn’t this horrible??” “Life sucks and then you die. You know that now, right?”

And drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.

You’re wide awake, a scream forming in your mouth, brain and heart. You wish you had a pressure valve like the one Popeye used, just as you thought his muscles were going to blow up.

But, you don’t.

Fair? Don’t make me laugh. Life is really hard. You have to go through it each day with absolutely no guarantee that “things” are going to get better; that those four bad things that happened are going to be evened out by four really cool, wonderful things.

So why bother, right? In this latest round of heavy thinking, I’ve come to see that we “bother” because it’s what we do. It’s what makes people wonderful, exceptional. Show me a person, any person, and I’ll show you someone who is doing the best they can with what they’ve got — each and every day. It doesn’t mean you’re going to like them, or that they’re going to be anyone’s idea of successful. It just means they’re going to be brave, whether they know it or not, and whether they want to be or not.

Right now we miss our Kenzie so bad it hurts. But, we’ve already started focusing on the happiness she brought into our lives; the happiness we knew because of her. And that’s why, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether life is fair. Added up, we’re probably going to find more happiness than sorrow; more laughs than tears. I guess I can live with that.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog,

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