Hello, fellow literary people!
This week, Jennifer shares how never having lost a loved one to death doesn’t change the imminent truth that someday it will happen.
This video is in response to both THE FAULT IN OUR STARS movie trailer and the debut of Esther Earl’s THIS STAR WON’T GO OUT celebration. John Green is a New York Times bestselling author who dedicated TFiOS to Esther, a young nerdfighter who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of sixteen.
I have led a very fortunate life. I would even say that it’s more than fortunate – it’s an incredible life. I haven’t witnessed or been a part of something incredibly damaging, and although all of us in high school – all of us throughout our life – go through character-developing…
This is bullshit – not all of us go through character-developing shit, right? Some of us actually have really terrible things happen to us and we aren’t going to just try to inspire others because of what we’ve gone through. It tears us a part and it shatters our life, and you can’t just be a hero from things that shatter your life just like that!
I’m so naïve to suffering in a real sense, in a real world sense, that I’m terrified of the day that something happens to one of my family members or to a friend who I care about deeply, and I won’t be able to recover from it.
[I tutor at a college-level writing center, and] This girl came into the writing center, sat down, and she told me, “This is something I haven’t shown anybody before.” I have no idea what it’s about, so I’m all, “Oh, I’m going to just be jolly and help you.” So we sit down and I start reading it.
The first thing that happens to this girl when she is only sixteen years old, is her cousin is killed in a car accident because a drunk driver is driving down the wrong side of the road and has a head-on collision with her car and kills her.
So, this cousin, she is just gone. That’s it. That’s— that’s it.
Two weeks later – only two weekly later – she goes over to her neighbor’s house, and they’re friends, and the friend admits to her that he is dying of Leukemia…
It seemed like it was just another few weeks after that that her dad calls her. He doesn’t live with them, so she hasn’t talked to him in a while, but she always goes to him when she has troubles. So he’s calling, and he tells her that he’s also dying of cancer. She drops the phone and runs to her room.
There were no words that I could say the felt right — that I felt like I had the right to say, when I had no idea if it was enough: had put in enough emotion, had she left out something; I could not know and I couldn’t just pretend I knew.
After everything had happened to her, she realized she had to make a change in her life because she was losing people she loved, quickly. She was losing them very quickly. She decided to take a stand and start having family dinners every single night, and when she wanted to do something a little reckless, she would say, “What would my cousin have done?” or “What would my neighbor have said?”
These people who I work with every single day, or see respond to the TFiOS trailer, or attend Esther’s celebration – they face a burden I just can’t imagine. It terrifies me to think the day will come when I will have to let go because there is no other option: someone I love will be taken from me either by a violent death or natural causes or what have you, but it will be in my life one of these days.
I can’t tell you how I will feel when the day finally comes, but you give me hope. You show me that, although I will feel so alone for so long, I don’t always have to feel alone forever. I can come out and I will be met by love, and that love will mean something very powerful.
Sometimes, I wish something kind of mini, like, semi-bad would happen so I can prepare for the big things, but I think that’s just some stupid false comfort I think will actually work.
I don’t think you can prepare for death.
- A video collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl
- Wayne Earl video: “Dying is Inevitable. Living is Not”
- John Green’s vlogbrothers video recorded upon Esther’s passing
- This Star Won’t Go Out Foundation
- Ester’s Youtube
New episodes are periodically posted on Mondays.