Deaths in Reeve family shake us to the core
By Jerry Large
Seattle Times staff columnist
More Jerry Large
I hadn’t given much thought to Dana Reeve until she died, but I felt something when I read about her.

It wasn’t grief that kept the thought of her death in my mind long after I’d put the paper down. It was a deep sense of unfairness. Her death was an assault on some innate need for fairness. As unfair as we can all be in our behavior toward one another, we still have a need to believe the world is not composed of random happenings.

Gordon Parks died this week, too. I knew more about him and respected his work, but he was 93 years old, so I didn’t think he’d been shortchanged.

Reeve was 44, but it was more than her age that bothered me.

Reeve, as you know, was married to Christopher Reeve, the actor who became famous portraying Superman in several movies. He was paralyzed in a fall from a horse, and for several years Dana cared for him and joined with him in trying to improve the lot of other people who were paralyzed.

That would have been enough to elicit my sympathy. Here was a young couple whose lives were thrown by a chance event no one would have chosen. And their response was to make something good from it.

Then it got worse. Right after he died, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Oh, and she didn’t smoke.

I thought about the story of Job. Is there a lesson in here that transcends her pain and makes it all worthwhile? Sure, somewhere, and maybe someone out there will see that his life isn’t so bad, but that’ll last about two minutes.

Then it got worse. She died and left behind a 13-year-old son. Thirteen is a painful, confused, scary time of life. Transcendent lesson? The word that occurred to me can’t be reproduced here.

My feelings, of course, weren’t really about Dana Reeve, or her son. They were about my need to believe against all the evidence to the contrary that life is fair.

People put a lot of effort into imposing fairness on the world.
We have rules and regulations to enforce it, and when we can’t make it happen, we invent visions of it.

I remember being a kid and learning for the first time that babies in Africa were starving to death every day. I wanted to know how God could allow that. How could we allow it?

People have lots of answers to those questions, but they all seem to be inventions to make it seem not so unfair, often by placing blame on whoever is suffering; in the case of those babies, on their parents, or their leaders, anything to make it understandable.

We need to believe in fairness because we want the world to make sense, and because we want security for ourselves. There is no security in a world where chance rules.

So we constantly examine things for their fairness.

When someone wins the Lotto, doesn’t some part of your brain automatically rate their worthiness?

No one wants good things to happen to bad people or bad things to happen to good people. Hey, we’re good people, so good things should happen to us. That’s the way the world ought to work.

You saw that study reported a few weeks ago, in which people played a game with some volunteers, some of whom were honest and some obvious cheaters. The subjects were then hooked up to brain-scanning machinery while they watched other players receive a shock to the hand.

When an innocent player got a shock, people’s brains registered activity in pain-related areas. We don’t like seeing innocents suffer.

Women’s brains empathized even with cheaters. But when the cheaters got a shock, men showed no empathy, and in fact got a little pleasure from the punishment.

He had it coming to him, is a classic guy line. Life, however, isn’t so neat.

The Reeves recognized that life isn’t fair, but they worked to make it better, which is about all any of us can do.

Jerry Large: 206-464-3346 or

His column runs Thursdays and Sundays and is found at

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

its now the middle of March – time has certainly flown by. I went for a walk yesterday because I needed to get out of the house and it was a beautiful sunny day here. Things are kinda funny up here. The temperature was barely 52 and yet there were a lot of folks walking around in the shorts and short-sleeve shirts up on Cap Hill. People will take advantage of any sunlight we get and call it warm. There was a lot of white-blue pasty skin for sure, it wasn’t pretty I did wear a short-sleeve shirt and it was ok in the sun but once you got out of direct sunlight – brrrrr. I think maybe I need to start using the tanning bed downstairs in the gym.

My Comcast cable went out yesterday also, which totally sucked because Sunday is the L Word, Grays Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. What was weird was only the channels below 101 weren’t working everything above it was. Theres something wrong (duh) with non-digital services we’re getting then. I hooked up just the aerial antenna and I watched Grays and Desperate in my bedroom – sorta. Mike is home today so the cable guy/gal will be able to come out and fix the damn thing.

I’m not looking forward to work in fact I get bummed every-time I think about going there. I absolutely need to move on from there. I can’t stand my boss or most of my coworkers. I love my customers and frankly they and that I like having an income are the only two things keeping me there. Mike has been in some kind of funk for almost a month or so now so it feels like I’m getting it from everywhere. He never goes out, barely does anything except surf the internet and watch T.V.. He keeps his lights off and windows shut. It’s just such a depressing situation I can’t wait for Spring and light and moving on. So there work which is dark and depressing there is now home which is dark and depressing and there is the death of a friend I’m dealing with which is dark and depressing. Things are definitely looking very Johnny Darko around here. So yes Spring and the return of sunshine is a very good thing. My trip down to L.A. is also a very very good thing, although the weather down there isn’t looking that great these days, at least there will be sun. My efforts at getting a new job and the certainty that everything is going to change in 9 months also holds out enormous hope for me. Time to start my day.

Yes. This is Snow in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Snow

That forecast of “wacky weather” we mentioned in Thursday’s Lunch News post was right on. Our blood has thinned and we are frigid sitting here in our sandals. Too bad for vacationers in Palm Springs.

Last month, a New Yorker wrote in snow “It doesn’t do this in LA,” but Martini Republic compared 5 days of L.A. weather to NYC. Guess who won the cold war?

One New York City transplant told LAist his feelings on it. “I just object on the grounds that if I wanted snow, I would be living in a city with more culture and better transportation.”

Not a first for L.A., but snow is always exciting for some and not for others – the 5 North in the Grapevine was at a standstill. A few miles south, the weather wasn’t exactly par for the annual AT&T Golf Classic (previously the SBC Golf Classic) in Santa Clarita. Sorry Lee Trevino!

The L.A. Treasure hunt has been postponed and L.A. Times has lots of facts and stories from across the state.

Yes. That photo was taken in Los Angeles yesterday. Photo by WritePudding via LiveJournal and Flickr.

Is “Carnivale” Coming Back?

please make it so… I loved this series

MediaVillage has heard that HBO is seriously considering developing a two hour movie or a four-hour miniseries that would tie up the tantalizing loose ends from the final episode of its supernatural dust-bowl drama “Carnivale”.

The series ended its second season in an abrupt manner that infuriated its loyal viewers, leaving them to wonder if Ben the healer could survive his violent confrontation with the evil Brother Justin, and if the newly possessed Sofie would succeed in bringing Justin back to life.

The new production would be telecast sometime in 2007. Further, if that movie or mini does well, there’s talk the pay cable giant might even consider resurrecting the franchise as an ongoing series in 2008. Dark Horizons

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