A Confession Upon Completing "The Fault in Our Stars"
I’m not one who cries at the drop of a hat. But I have cried watching TV commercials promoting long distance call packages. I have become teary-eyed at the sight of cute baby animals being rescued from perilous situations. And even a poignant song can leave me insisting no, really, I just have something in my eye.
So I was prepared to have to mop up some extra moisture when finishing up John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars on Saturday night. Tissues were within easy reach, and I would only have to face my husband and our cat post-reading. I mean, how could I not shed tears over the stories of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters? They face struggles no teenager should have to wrestle with, and they do so more often than not with courage and a somewhat caustic wit I could totally relate to, as the rippling effects of cancer are no strangers to me or to many whom I know.
And yet when I read the book’s final lines and then set it aside, I found myself turning to Jeff and saying, “I did not cry while reading this book. Does that make me a monster of some sort?” He jokingly replied it did, but as I went to sleep Saturday night, I found myself genuinely wondering why a book which moved many to genuine tears left me damp-eyed, but nothing more.
It wasn’t that I was not moved. Or angered in parts, or hopeful that I was wrong about where things were heading as I crossed the halfway point. But there were no tears. Sadness – yes. Tears – no. And I wonder if it’s because I could remove myself to a degree from this story. I’ve seen how a terminal diagnosis unfolded for a man who missed becoming my official brother-in-law by nine months. I’ve heard how my mom’s 25% chance of survival morphed into her seeing her daughters grow up and have children of their own before the disease tried (and failed) again to knock her down. I’ve walked through diagnosis and treatments with Jeff, and a 2nd surgery six years later where we now wait for official word on test results that, so far, are pretty amazing. (But the light has not bumped all the way to green quite yet.)
I don’t know … maybe this shouldn’t bother me at all. As I said, I was emotionally moved by the story. But maybe a story doesn’t have to leave a trail of tears as it settles in your heart.