(Warning: here there be be spoilyers)
I had my D&E (read: abortion) the first week of January, and took a few days for me to recover emotionally before I could face a school full of teenager parents.
I put on my mask and went to work. I only stumbled once when that one (insert choice adjective here) came up to me and pointedly asked how my pregnancy was coming along, even though the entire school had been prepped that I had “lost” the baby.
I still haven’t forgiven her.
It was during this week that a student came up to me and handed me a book that he insisted that I borrow and read.
I glanced at it warily. The last book a student tried to foist on me was a fundamentalist book about Heaven and Hell. The author made more grammar errors than my students, and I found it to be unreadable and insufferable. That’s what I get for teaching Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno. The kids love it, but I find it tedious at times.
Well, this book looked like it was going to be a romance (I’m still a n00b when it comes to teen fiction) about two cancer patients.
I eyed it warily and asked, “It is going to make me cry?” Stupid question.
“Oh, no! It has sad parts, but it’s funny and through-provoking.”
Fast forward to today. I was moping around the house, still reeling from the shock of the RE’s office, and decided to give it a go.
Let’s just say that I cried all over his book. But not in the way that he probably thought I would. I didn’t cry because a character died.
Just the idea of reading about these parents who sit back and watch their child suffer helplessly because of cancer was almost too much for me to bear. At one point, while the main character is in the ICU and near death, she overhears her mother whisper “If she dies, I’m no longer a mother.”
Later on, her mother explains “Even when you die, I will still be your mom… I won’t ever stop being your mom.”
Not if. When.
And I lost it.
I cried over a teenage romance novel, which I was supposed to cry over, but I didn’t cry over the things I was supposed to cry about.
I cried because these parents had to watch a child they loved die a painful death and there was nothing they could do about it.
I cried because I could have (should have?) been in their position.
I cried, and I cried, and I cried.
It’s remarkable how tender I am to certain things – I was able to sit in the dentist’s chair today and calmly explain that I lost my daughter when I was 18 weeks pregnant and that’s why I have been grinding my teeth. What’s that? Oh, yes, we know what happened. She had a neural tube defect and her spine was on the outside of her body.
Saying it that bluntly felt good.
But how come I’m able to say that and yet lost my shit when it comes to a teenager romance novel?
It was a good book, actually. Even if I weren’t to read it through my own personal lens, I’d recommend it. There are a few times when it gets a little pretentious (it’s written for teenagers, after all) and I get a little put off by what feel like intellectual elitism at times, but it’s easily ignored.
The author also starts with a forward basically telling the audience not to worry about whether or not the story has any factual basis – it takes away from the power of a fictional story. But I disagree. I think that people reading this book read it to feel connected, and the idea that a real person can feel, can understand them, is more powerful than an imagined character.
I’m starting to ramble now – this was actually a post from yesterday, but I didn’t have the emotional stamina to continue. And now, my mind has already moved on to other thoughts.
I’ll just pretend this is done and publish.