A few weeks ago, I finished The Fault in our Stars.
This book was written by John Green – an American author and also a YouTube content creator whose inspiration for the book partly stems from his friendship with Esther Earl; who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of twelve and went on to become an internet celebrity, blogging and posting about her life and illness on YouTube before her passing.
John Green, in this beautifully written story, used the fictional character of Hazel Grace to mirror Esther Earl’s personality. Their apparent similarity was the mix of teenagerness and profound empathy, closeness to friends and family, the ability to be silly and funny, and the substitution of her lungs with an oxygen tank; using her lungs was like extinguishing a forest fire with an eyedropper.
This is a book guaranteed to elicit some emotions depending on your temperament. If you’re like me, you will shed tears. But if you’re unlike me, it’s a book that will make you sad, angry, or feel a myriad of sensations.
Before I willed myself to read this book, I felt bloated, my head was a mess and I needed something melancholic to leave me light and free; this Catharsis genre did not disappoint.
It is a story about the teenage love affair of Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace, both battling Osteosarcoma and Thyroid cancers respectively. Their fight with these monsters sheds light on the mindset and emotional realities of chronic illness.
Towards the last five chapters, the words weren’t words anymore, they were pictures. No, they were motion pictures.
The confluence of A’s and Z’s in black is meticulously seated on a white veneer, but my mind’s eye pictured Augustus Waters; a kid dying of cancer telling his teenage love that it is alright. There are no bad guys. That cancer isn’t a bad guy. Like him, cancer just wants to be alive. Although it sounded like utter horseshit, I couldn’t disagree because he was right. The tumor just yearned for a life.
I kissed my teeth in frustration.
It is heartbreaking because I desperately wanted the lad to beat his cancer and thrive. Hell, I want everyone battling a chronic illness to beat their monsters and grow old. But it’s a fight between the body and cancer, you already know the predetermined winner.
The last four chapters arrived bearing pangs.
Teary-eyed, I read the words of Hazel Grace, reading a eulogy at the prefuneral organized by Augustus Waters. Her infinity!
Recollecting amidst sobs in her short eulogy that some infinities are larger than other infinities; few days spent with some person(s) is more significant than a million years with everyone else. She wished they’d grow old together, but the world is not a wish-granting machine.
I stayed teary-eyed till Augustus closed his blue eyes forever, never to be opened again. Sadness enveloped me, yet I relished it because reading books like this one are ever rejuvenating. The only way I can purge my mind.
Maybe a week before I go again, to the next book laced with a heartbreaking climax.
PS: To those battling any chronic illness, I’m holding you and your families in my heart right now.