Worlds collided, and I died. I love life and its crazy surprises.
I’m just remembering a road trip with friends to meet John Green last year, back BEFORE The Fault in Our Stars even had a name! Seems like ages ago.
Time for me to reread TFiOS …
Just finished The Fault in Our Stars. Took me long enough, I know. M*A*S*H episodes have been flying free and fast in this joint, and I couldn’t bring myself to end the book too soon. So. Here’s my thoughts, approximately 40 minutes after stumbling to the last page. I doubt there’s any spoilers, but if you’re that concerned, go read the book instead. It’s worth it. It’s totally different that what I’m writing here, which is more for myself to remember rather than for others to try and understand me and my infinitely self-centered thoughts.
I honestly did not cry through the whole book, not until Hazel admits, “My old man. He always knew just what to say.” I cried because, strange enough, I don’t remember hearing my own dad say anything. I can’t hear his voice in my head. He has been technically dead for only a little over a year and I am already forgetting parts of him. Augustus said, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world … but you do have some say in who hurts you.” Dad hurt me a lot, and still does. But I loved him, and I love him.
I remember waiting for him. It’s a constant theme, that one. Dad = waiting. It was a fact that I came to know as a kid. He left mom and I for hours at the county fair once, just waiting. He would promise to take me fishing, or to an amusement park, and would forget me, waiting. I would frolic out of early morning Sunday school class, only to find that he wasn’t there to pick me up. I waited. Then began walking. He drove up just before I reached the highway. I would wake up in the mornings when mom was away at work, and I knew he was snoring in front of the television, some sports game on, buried under his paperwork of gambling and bets - I could hear his racket through the cardboard thin walls in our trailer. I would wait for him to wake up, to make me some breakfast, to help me brush my hair, to help pick out my clothes for the day. I soon learned to do things on my own, rather than wait for him. I would leave him, in the easy chair, snoring with a grumble that would shake the walls of Jerico, a note scribbled on a scrap of his papers telling him I was at Gram and Papaw’s house. I did the leaving that time, though soon he did the ultimate leaving.
But I love him. Don’t know why, really. He was a trickster, a laugher, singing in a deep, baritone voice. Excellent driver who could find his way out of downtown Indy like no sweat. Passionate, but terrible fisherman. Compulsive buyer who collected stuff and then never took care of it. An intelligent dreamer who could never stop looking for a new, easy way to get cash without too much work. Smoker. Gambler. Diabetes that lead to being so overweight that his legs and feet swelled up like tight, red balloons, with no hope of cramming them into pants or shoes. The guy who walked out on mom and me when I was a kid. Didn’t talk to him for over a year, and didn’t see him for two years. Mom said once that he left because he couldn’t let me down any more. The man I knew as my dad died long ago. In TFiOS, Hazel says that funerals are for the living, and that is true. I didn’t go to my dad’s funeral. He didn’t even have a funeral. No money for such things.
Why did I love him? I’m still trying to figure that one out. But, I think that I will not let dad hurt me any more. Augustus said I had a choice, so I will make that choice. I will remember dad as best I can, the leaving, the waiting, and the strange love that still exists between a girl and her daddy. And I will know that after I am gone, no one will remember MY dad like I do. I’m just one more dog squirting on a fire hydrant, as Gus would say.
And thanks, John Green. You wrote one hell of a book.