The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

 

Dearest Daughter:

Someone said catharsis and that felt right. I thought of you during this entire book. I thought of you the moment I randomly ran across this quote that says, "Grief doesn't change you, it reveals you".

 

The funny thing is that I thought I would just read to that part, just so I could grasp the context of the words and then let it go. And I did need to let it go, for some reason it made me so angry – angry to think that you could cash in while glamourizing tragedy. In a world that is obsessed with finding the ‘real you’, I couldn’t read that quote through any other lens…

 

In a cruel twist of fate, that line doesn't appear until the book was 93% complete. I was in it for the long haul, being pushed and pulled and told exactly how to feel with each and every page.

 

The book never asked me what I thought of grieving and really didn't leave me much to ponder about the way that I do grieve. But I do know one thing...for all the effort it made to bring me to the precipice of wretched longing and despair, it was a stale and cardboard representation of a love story. At the beginning, when I was really angry at the cheek and privilege and pretension between these two tragic kids falling in love, I would sit with your dad and hold his hand railing at how we romanticize intense pain and suffering by “demanding that we feel it” - but at some point the fight just flew out of me in a woosh. It all became a little disappointing. In fact, for me it began to feel desperate. Desperate to make me hurt more, desperate to say something ‘really important’.

 

And I read all these pages, all of them just to say, to myself mostly, that grief doesn't change or reveal me any more than love does. Life has been full of alternating joy and triumph, small injustices and epic grief - like that of burying you before I ever got to know if your hair would remain dark and sweetly curly or if it would have turned blonde and unruly, like that of your brothers.

 

I don’t think grief reveals you in any larger way than that of the other happenstances of life.

 

At the end, after I hashed out my annoyance with things I cannot change, and thought too much about all the ways I found this book to be stupid, I revisited a book that I read for you in my early days of loss -My Dream of Heaven by Rebecca Ruter Springer and I was reminded of a poem by W.H. Longfellow which says:

 

 

 She is not dead,--the child of our affection,--

But gone unto that school

Where she no longer needs our poor protection,

And Christ himself doth rule.

 

In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion,

By guardian angels led,

Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution,

She lives, whom we call dead.

 

Day after day we think what she is doing

In those bright realms of air;

Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,

Behold her grown more fair.

 

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken

The bond which nature gives,

Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,

May reach her where she lives.

 

Not as a child shall we again behold her;

For when with raptures wild In our embraces we again enfold her,

She will not be a child;

 

But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion,

Clothed with celestial grace;

And beautiful with all the soul's expansion

Shall we behold her face.

 

And though at times impetuous with emotion

And anguish long suppressed,

The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,

That cannot be at rest,--

 

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling

We may not wholly stay;

By silence sanctifying, not concealing,

The grief that must have way.

 

When I let myself, I do, ardently, wish you were here. You might have loved this silly, artificial book - and I would have loved you anyway.