“Newhart” is a great sitcom from the back in the 80’s. In it, the brilliant Bob Newhart plays Dick Loudon, the owner of a Vermont bed & breakfast, who is surrounded by a surreal and possibly insane cast of characters, including the most unique trio of brothers in media history: Larry, Darryl, and Darryl. The show concluded its run with what I consider the greatest moment in sitcom (maybe all of television) history.
This post has nothing to do with most of that. The only connection is a single interchange on the show when Dick is arguing with someone. He finishes a point by barking the usually rhetorical question, “Who said life was fair?” Standing by is his handyman George, played by the wonderful comic actor Tom Poston. Missing the whole rhetorical aspect, he naively responds, “I think that was me.” Great line from a great show.
George’s confession notwithstanding, anyone who thinks like is fair stands to be greatly disappointed.
Especially when it comes to MS.
Life with MS has got to be the least fair of just about any life. It all seems like such a crap shoot – whether you get it, how bad it is, relapses and remissions, how quickly it progresses, if it progresses, which meds work and which backfire – all a roll of the dice. None of us chose this “scum-sucking pig of a disease”, to borrow the apt description given by another comic genius, Teri Garr. And as much as the diet Nazis would have you believe otherwise, eating too much bacon (or whatever) didn’t give it to you.
I look around at my support group. They define diversity. Some look like they could run a marathon, some look like they were just dragged through one, and others would struggle just watching one. I can’t make any sense of it. To quote pretty much every toddler and teen who has ever lived, “It’s not fair!” And to quote pretty much every frustrated parent, not to mention Newhart’s Dick Loudon, “Who said life is fair?”
Not surprisingly, I have no answers. What’d you expect? Every theologian and philosopher through the ages has struggled with the question. Few have come up with answers, but those who did were almost certainly wrong.
To push the gambling analogy, each of us is dealt a hand, some full houses, some nothing, 9-high. My best guess is to trust God, play the hand I’m dealt, and lend a few chips along the way to those on the losing end of the deck. For those of us with MS, there’s nothing more important to remember than the fact that we’re all in this together. When one loses, we all lose.
If anyone asks, I’m that one who said that.