I have avoided reading The Fault in our Stars by John Green, though several of my friends on FB raved about the book. I tend to avoid anything concerning cancer by anyone who has not been there. Like pink ribbons, it offends me that people capitalize on the disease and on the journeys of those who experience it. And besides I didn't want to have my heart broken by the death of characters I had grown to love.
Cancer reminds me of returning from Nicaragua those years when I went there as a part of the partnership the Presbytery had with the Moravian Church on the Rio Coco. Unless one had the experience (or a similar one), one could not understand what it was like. Oh, I could tell stories, but I could not give someone the wrenching feeling in the gut when I returned in early December and opened the Plain Dealer (which must have weighed five pounds that Sunday morning) filled with page after page of stuff no one needed, but everyone seemed to have to have. One might be able to understand the feelings intellectually, but that is not the same as actually experiencing them.
I listened to an interview with John Green this morning and he sounded like he got so much right. He wanted to show the capriciousness of cancer. How, it makes no sense. How random it is.
For me it is the capriciousness of cancer that is the most difficult to deal with. Why me? No cancer to speak of in the family. (Though later I found out about relatives' cancer that had been kept hidden when the disease was something no one talked about.) After all, I knew that heart disease was the greatest killer of women. I was exercising to keep my heart healthy. And why did I live when I lost two friends to cancer, that fall, friends who had been diagnosed at the same time as me? Capricious. The universe is random. Our search for order is fruitless. We deceive ourselves when we believe that there is order there.
We yearn for order, for meaning, for understanding. All I can do is hold up Revelation's vision of the new Jerusalem come down to earth. Then, creation will be compete and order will hold sway.