This book is everywhere and now I understand why. Yesterday I read A Fault In Our Stars by John Greene on my flight home to New York and it left me shattered. Going into it I knew it was a “sad” book because my sister snapped a photo of herself after she finished it and let’s just say mascara was running and she looked all sorts of upset. So I armed myself is a roll of toilet paper (because I am too cheap to buy real tissues) and I cracked it open.
Here’s why this book is so powerful, yes it’s a tragic story of a young woman living with terminal cancer who falls in love with a young man whose cancer is in remission. Yes, the story has sad parts, but the story isn’t necessarily about their given circumstances. Their given circumstances influence their actions. The two main characters in the story Hazel and Augustus are wise beyond their years, incredibly strong and witty and they fall in love. Their story is incredible. The book alone is incredibly powerful but it was utterly life changing reading this existential piece of fiction literally way up high, flying in the clouds.
I have an incredibly hard time crying in front of people. There’s a line in the book that had me laughing and crying because it literally described what I was doing: “Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.” So I would start to cry, try to stop myself, look out the window and see the clouds which would make me think of my brother and then I would lose it and just sit there trying really hard not to draw attention to the fact that I was falling apart in the best way possible.
This book really was a cathartic read for me. It hit incredibly close to home because I lost my brother Scott tragically in 2009. Everyone deals with grief differently but it’s something that takes your heart hostage. I never understood what “shock” was until it happened to me. Death is an unnaturally natural thing. It’s sort of like an atom bomb. The initial detonation devastates everything and then the aftershocks and side effects appear days, weeks, months and even years after. We all experience death. Being aware of your mortality can be a debilitating. It stops you dead in your tracks.
I find comfort in laughter. It’s the reason when I feel myself falling into the rabbit hole I get up, surround myself with positive and funny people and we go do something. It’s also the reason I started to and continue to run. Running literally has me moving forward towards things. It’s incredibly easy for me to just dissolve into the whys, what ifs, or play the blame game but none of them serve me. We can sit and ask what if or why until we draw our last breaths. (You actually will probably do this anyways.) But I love that the two main characters in this book, even in the most unsettling of circumstances, find laughter in tragic absurdity. “You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.” Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you can’t laugh but it’s what works for me so I’m sticking to it.
“You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” There’s a beautiful lyric from a musical called “Next To Normal” that has become a mantra for me, “The price you pay for love is loss.” Life’s a struggle. Life is difficult. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense and often it really isn’t fair. But this text is a beautiful little reminder of why you cannot, not, live your life. You have to see new places, meet new people, fall in love, set goals and suffer. If you’re looking for a book to read, reach for this one. I can't stop thinking about it.
Ok, I know, total 180 from this crazy weekend. You are probably looking for some crazy wedding stories and they are still to come. But I literally can't stop thinking about this story and I had to share.
Until tomorrow friends, #RunSelfieRepeat