Once in awhile someone tells me I must be angry. Angry with God. Angry with the universe. Angry with whatever caused Brandon’s cancer. Sometimes someone says surely I ask, "Why?"
I’m not and haven’t been angry – not with God, the universe or whatever caused some of Brandon’s cells to go whacko. And I don’t ask, “Why?” Why my baby, our Brandon? Why our family? Why now instead of many years from now? Why not someone who isn’t a good person – why not someone who hurts others? Why not me instead of him? But my work is in health care. I know “shit happens” and shit is nondiscriminatory. So perhaps the question should be, “Why not?”
A few weeks ago I finished the book The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) by John Green. I hesitated reading it, as I knew it was about young adults with cancer. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it, especially when others told me how they’d sobbed through several chapters. Still, like a moth to flame, I was drawn to it. Since the movie is soon to debut, I figured it was safer for this moth(er) to check out the book in the privacy of her home rather than the film version in a public movie theater.
Although I confess to a few moments of teariness, I did not cry as I’ve come to know “cry.” No tears rolled down my cheeks. I did not sob. I did not hear the guttural sounds I’d never known I was capable of uttering until moments after Brandon’s soul and body separated, but which I’ve heard many times since. I’ve cried my river in the last 1 year + 51.9 weeks. At times I feel as if I’m crying a new river. I guess much of TFIOS seemed to be no more than “been there, done that.”
Still, I found myself highlighting several passages. Those passages spoke to me. I include a few here.
“What am I at war with? My cancer. And what is my cancer? My cancer is me. The tumors are made of me. They’re made of me as surely as my brain and my heart are made of me. It is a civil war… with a predetermined winner.“ Augustus Waters
Brandon didn’t lose “his” battle with cancer, because if he battled his cancer, he’d have been battling himself. Some tiny thing that was part him forgot to act properly and it became a big thing. He did his best to put a stop to it, but puny humans cannot always put a halt to this part of themselves even with today’s treatments.
And that brings me to another statement of TFIOS “hero” Augustus Waters:
“Even cancer isn’t a bad guy really: Cancer just wants to be alive.”
Augustus may have referred to dealing with cancer as a civil war, but when the cancer, the part of the body that’s gone haywire, overwhelms its own body, the cancer dies too. In wanting to be alive, cancer sets up its own demise. I feel sure Brandon would have been willing to “share.” Hell, he’d have been willing to serve as the poster boy for cancer if it meant he (and his cancer part) could have stayed here in this world with his wife, daughter, family and friends for a long time.
“The pleasure of remembering was taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
Hazel Grace Lancaster
Relationships come in all shapes and sizes: couples, parent and child, siblings, friends. For every relationship one is part of, there are shared moments that are special. Such moments are brought up, discussed, laughed at, enjoyed and savored over and over as time passes. TFIOS narrator Hazel nails the feeling when one’s co-remember is no longer present and will not be present to co-remember ever again.
|Creation of a co-remembrance|
This weekend marks 2 years – 104 weeks since Brandon and his cancer died.
“It seemed like forever ago, like we’d had this brief but infinite forever. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” Hazel Grace