Spoiler alert: there is a death in the book and I am about to examine that death. If you intend to read the book and you are not the type of reader who reads the last page of a book first, stop reading this blog post. Go read The Fault in Our Stars, and then come back to read my blog post. Or just stop reading. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but I can't explain my state of mind without revealing at least a part of the end of the book. You've been warned.
When Hazel's boyfriend dies, she has to attend his funeral and read a eulogy. She has to face her life, however short it might be, without him. They argued; they didn't always see eye to eye, but at the heart of their story, they were in love. I get the tears, but I didn't cry them. I wondered if I had become cold and distant and some thing other than wholly human, some monster merely existing through my time on Earth, no longer able to live the kind of meaningful life the characters in the book might have striven for.
But I am no monster. I have lived through Hazel's anguish. I have loved deeply and lost completely without the solace of a painfully long goodbye. And I was Hazel's age. Seventeen. I didn't have Cancer, but I did have a swelling pregnant belly. My Augustus was Anthony, and he died quickly and tragically instead of slowly and tragically.
And here I am today. Seventeen and a half years later. Life does go on. I don't wake screaming and crying or thinking I have a life that became only a dream the day Anthony died. Not to say I didn't have other demons to deal with beyond the initial grief. I did not have Hazel's death sentence to satiate my love. I do not know how long I will live, so living a life without another love was something I could not commit myself to do. Yet, moving on into other relationships has its own sense of guilt, pain, and complications.
All of this said, I am relatively balanced in my life now (as much as any writer can be), and I had a choice to make as I read The Fault in Our Stars. I could dive deeply into the pain and emotion I had experienced, reliving it as extremely as possible in the passages in the book, crying not for Augustus and Hazel but for Anthony and for a younger version of myself. Or I could examine it in a different light. I chose the later. I read through the tragedy, and it brought up thoughts and emotions, but I looked at them, at the experiences of the fictional characters, at my own experiences, in a more analytical light. Not cold, but through the lens of time and experience. I shed a few small tears at the end, and I am not fully certain for whom.
So, reader, if you have made it this far, these are my thoughts. I am ready to finish the memoir I started back when I first saw those two lines on that little stick. It has taken me nearly two decades to feel ready, to feel whole again, or whole enough to tackle the raw emotion I lived through. I have felt this way before, so we will sI must apologize that this will take me away from writing my sequel, although I hope the urge I have to write will carry over to both projects. To The Red Heel Society, I still intend to have at least a rough draft of Dreams in the Midst in hand for you to read when my turn comes up in February/March. I may have A Whisper In Time ready for perusal then, too.