It had been a whole year since Augustus Waters died. One long, agonizing, terrible year to suffer through. It was not only that he had died, it was also that a part of me had died too. Not only that, but I was getting sicker, and it was getting, quite literally, harder to breathe. Lung and thyroid cancer really isn't fun. However, I must live with it because cancer is just a side effect of dying.
I am currently at the ICU since my lungs that are horrible at being lungs decided: Hey! Let's make Hazel Grace's life even more miserable than it already is by making her go to the hospital every two weeks to get some fluid emptied out of us so she can breathe okay again! Thank you very much, my dear, precious lungs, for doing this to me.
You see, a side effect of lung and thyroid cancer is that your lungs constantly fill up with an amber fluid that is just so disgusting to look at that you don't even want to know the scientific name for it. Not only that, but you get lung tumors which cause your lungs to work worse than they already work. Then you use the miracle pill Phalanxifor, and for a while everything seems to be okay. And one day, just like the doctors predicted, you go and get your PET scan and the whole thing blows up in your face. The miracle medicine you have been on for three and a half years decides to finally fail, and the tumors that were once the size of your finger tip have grown to the size of your fingernail (which is a lot for a cancer patient). It has been three months since that devastating visit. The Phalanxifor keeps failing, so I've just stopped taking it.
I want to die. No one even understands how much I want to, but I just cannot. My lungs refuse to let me die. They keep sucking in just enough air to let me live, and without the oxygen tank I carry everywhere, I would look like a fish out of water, trying to sustain life, and slowly failing, but never letting go of the clinging hope. And I can't let go of it. Not yet. My parents need something to believe in.
Sadly, I am a grenade full of false hope with a false sense of security because my living only causes turmoil. I am a grenade and one day I will blow up and take everyone I love down with me and I hate it. I am nothing more than a burden to my parents and sadly, I cannot change that, unless I want to blow up. I know I cannot keep going on like this, and I have finally accepted it.
That is why I decided that I was going to give up the too-long, too-lengthy battle I have had with cancer. I will forfeit. I will let cancer win this battle, but cancer never really wins. That is because cancer just wants to live, just like the rest of us, and without a functioning body, it cannot be. That is why I feel bad for cancer.
Alas, I cannot have it both ways which is why I have made my decision. Cancer and I have reigned far too long on this earth and it is somebody else's turn to be the grenade that never explodes. It was Augustus', and then it was mine, and now it will be somebody else's.
"Hazel," Nurse Allison said, interrupting my thoughts.
"The fluid will begin draining in a few moments." As she went to turn the pump on that drained the fluid, I grabbed her wrist so that she would look at me.
"Please. Don't do it. I am a ticking grenade and I have been for too long. Let me blow up and give this duty to the next person. I would never ever wish this on anyone but I know that it is inevitable because some infinities are bigger than other infinities and I need to go. I feel that it is my time. Tell my parents that it isn't working and there is nothing that you can do and have them come in so I can say my final goodbyes. Please,"
I think she saw a certain look in my tired eyes that showed I have aged too much for a just turned seventeen year old and I deserved to let go, because she moved away from the machine and said:
"You are a fighter, Hazel Grace. Everyone at the ICU has learned to respect you for that and I think this is something we owe you for the way you have opened up our eyes. If you decide at any time that you want another chance at life, press the buzzer and I'll come running. You will be dearly missed."
I thanked her. I could hear the tears my parents were shedding as she told them the lie, and I couldn't help but feel like an awful person, but at the same time relieved that I could lift off the pain and suffering all three of us have endured. I knew my parents would never tell me it was time to give up the battle, since the only thing worse than having cancer is having a kid that bites it from cancer. So I made the decision for them.
"Hazel," My mom said, giving me a watery smile as salty water trickled out of her eyes. My dad didn't say anything. He just hugged me and my mom joined in and we all just stayed like that for a few minutes until I knew I had to tell them goodbye, as everyone has to at some point.
"I love you," I said, kissing my mom and dad on the cheek. They understood I was not going to last much longer and I had four more people to say goodbye to.
"I love you, Hazel," My mother said, kissing me one last time.
"I love you too, Hazel," My father said, giving me a bear hug and smothering me in one last kiss.
"See you on the other side," I said, desperately clinging on to the hope that there really was a heaven, an other side for me to see Augustus on. He believed in capital-S Something. My parents left this hospital room for the final time.
Nurse Allison came in, informing me that this was my last chance to take my last chance at life. After the next few minutes, my lungs would have so much fluid in them I wouldn't be able to drain it in time.
"Augustus was happy with his choices, and I am happy with mine. Even if I will have a bittersweet confliction in my heart."
Nurse Allison nodded in understanding. "Goodbye Hazel Grace Lancaster. It was nice knowing you." As she turned to leave, I piped up:
"If there is a kid named Isaac out there, tell him to get in here. Thanks!"
Seconds later, he showed up at my door, his mom leading him in.
"Thank you Hazel," His mom said, and then exited.
Isaac sat in the chair next to me and held my hand. He sighed, and then just like in support group with Patrick in the literal heart of Jesus, I responded to him with a sigh of my own.
"Patrick and everyone from support group are out there for you Hazel. Just beyond those doors. Just say the word and they'll come in." I should have said goodbye to them, but I was feeling selfish today.
"I don't want them seeing me like this Isaac. They can come to my funeral, but you and my parents and Mr. and Mrs. Waters are the only ones I want seeing me like this. Don't even let my friend Kaitlyn in here, if she shows up. You five are the only ones that I trust enough to understand how I am now. Please."
"You have my word." We stayed silent for a few moments and I said:
"Don't let anyone else in here until I am gone, okay?"
"Alright." He stood up and walked to the door.
"Don't let the blindness get you down,"
"And stay NEC for me," He was silent. "Okay?"
"Okay," Was all he said before leaving.
I knew I did not have much time left, but that was okay, I had closure. I could hear my parents screaming at Isaac and I felt bad to put him in the position to deny everyone access. He was my best friend, and he was not going to let me down. I wanted to say goodbye to everyone so I wrote on a blank notecard:
Thank you to everyone who put up with me. The pain, the said-to-be-terrible-but-really-enjoyable TV shows. The yelling I did when I was suffering and at times, being insufferable. But you were there for me. Every single one of you.
Kaitlyn had her life booked down to the minute and still had time for me. Patrick constantly told me his inspirational, yet annoying, cancer story ever single support group, without fail. Peter Van Houten was a broken man who drunk his way through life, yet still managed to touch my heart with a single novel that I have treasured since I was eleven. Lidewij Vliegenthart was his former assistant who put up with me, Augustus, and Peter ant the same time. Isaac went from being my support group buddy, to Gus' best friend, to being my best friend. How you manage to do that only to have us both leave you alone? I do not know. Mr. and Mrs. Waters are now dealing with two deaths- mine and Augustus'. I don't know how you do it, but I deeply treasured every moment I had with you and Gus.
Mom and Dad, the death was intentional. I couldn't deal with it anymore. My condition was getting worse and the guilt I feel in my heart now is inferior to the guilt I felt in my heart over that past few years. Making not only you, but everyone on this list and more suffer is wrong. It is truly and terribly and in any way, shape, and form wrong. We all need to stop suffering and move on with our lives and I'm sorry that my life is the sacrifice that has to be made for us all to stop suffering. I love you mom and dad. Augustus and I will be watching over you and we will be waiting in capital-S Somewhere or Heaven or whatever you believe to be the other side. I will miss you guys the most. It may not seem like it now, but in the future you will realize that what I am doing is only being fair to you, the burden-bearers of me and my lungs.
Hazel Grace Lancaster
I folded up the note and closed my eyes. The spastic breaths my lungs were forcing me to take were becoming less and less. I was aware of the feeling of tingling and somehow leaving my body. I could see a white light and Augustus. He was giving me his award-winning, cocky, Augustus Waters smile. I knew he found his capital-S Somewhere, and was waiting for me to join him. And suddenly I
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