I do not know John Green.
What I do know, however, is that in some aspects, he got it right when he wrote The Fault in Our Stars: the pain, the agony, the grief that follows when you lose the person that you love. It’s unbearable. It’s… the big, fat ten.
He also got it right about how it’s not important that a million people love you, or that you touched and inspired a million people. You just have to be loved and inspired by one. My mom didn’t reach a lot of people. She didn’t inspire millions of people with her fight or her smile – but she inspired me. She touched me, and that, I think, was enough for her.
My last letter to my mom was intended to be just that – the last piece I ever wrote for or about her. While I think it was fitting at the time, I’m coming to realize that my story – and, in turn, hers – is still going. I may not want to write about my grief all the time (at present I’m mulling over a piece on how mangled my heart is, and yet how I’m still open to the possibility of love and isn’t that the strangest and most brave thing a person can do?) but I will want to write about her. I will want to write about how she inspired me, how she made me who I am today.
My mom was my best friend. For years now – eight years, three months, and twelve days, if we’re going to be exact – I’ve struggled with how I wanted to write her story. But her story is my story, and mine is hers, even in her absence.
My writing is what kept me going – even when I wasn’t sure what to write, I wrote. I knew if I could do at least that, it would keep me from going crazy. It would keep me from losing my mind on days when the grief was just too much for me to bear.
And I think that the best tribute to my mom – the only fitting one that I can really think of – is to show how I’ve evolved since she left. I want to show how the strength she imparted to me is still there. I may have days where I want to stay in bed all day (April 15 and April 21, for instance) but I also have days where I need to get out of bed, and go and make a difference, even if it’s just a tiny one. My mom didn’t raise a quitter, and she certainly didn’t raise me to wallow in my grief.
So it is in that spirit that I write this. I write about how I do not know John Green. I write about how, in spite of not knowing John Green, I can say with certainty that he knows me, and he understands the grief I have felt for the last eight years, three months, and twelve days. I write this, the hopeful final prologue to the book that I will write for my mom – and for any girl out there who has ever lost her mother.
We are a tribe, ladies. I cannot say that I am honored to be in this tribe, but I am honored that I am here with you. I hope that I can do you the same justice that John Green did for me.