A Shout into the Void: the Bravery of Hazel and Gus

Just watched “The Fault in Our Stars.” Took myself out for a movie date.

And Hazel Grace just knocks me out. I understand how she feels.

The most difficult thing to do in this life is to be courageous enough to receive love.

There is no greater feat.

It takes me awhile to open myself up to a relationship. I need time to trust someone.

It’s easier to love someone else than to allow someone to love you– especially someone that YOU love, or might consider loving.

The intimacy is staggering. And when you’re fighting a common battle, you’re allied together and everything is more intense– it happens faster. The way these two openly adore each other restores your faith in humanity.

I love that this movie validates that YOUNG love is important. So many are dismissive of it. I was, at that age.

I love that Hazel’s parents have a strong marriage and love their daughter enough to allow her the greatest adventure although she is sick. They accept Gus and don’t try to stop their love affair. They recognize it as special. Early on, they’re concerned about the future for Gus, since her health is precarious.

I am happy to see that Hazel Grace embraces and manages her health with dignity. In meeting Gus, she sees a reason to strive beyond what she would have ever imagined previously. She climbs stairs. She carries her oxygen tank on her back. She stops to rest when needed– but she doesn’t avoid obstacles just because she might have trouble breathing.

She knows life is only this moment. She loves herself enough to accept challenges. Talk about tremendous.

As Hazel tells Gus in an effort to protect him from the future suffering of loving someone terminally ill, she is a “grenade.”

But don’t we ALL feel that way? Gus reassures her that loving her would be an adventure he can’t resist.

Her heart falls open. She allows him to love her. And slowly, she begins to trust enough to love him back.

You don’t need to have a serious health condition to understand the fear, the ambivalence, of this young couple.

They see each other at their darkest moments– they cling to one another for stability in a world where they feel out of control. When their bodies and the unpredictable nature of their cancer and disease dominates their lives and limits possibilities.

They refuse to accept a death sentence– in each other, they see a reason to live. They make it their missions to normalize the journey– to treat each other as any other boy and girl in love. They drink champagne. They spend time together. They revel in each other’s strength and energy. They even make love.

They see each other and reflect that beautiful image back until both of them believe it.

You see the way Gus changes Hazel. It’s truly a sacrificial, star-crossed affair. He succumbs to his body’s limitations– but her health improves and she goes on. She remembers. She treasures him.

Hazel is a heroine I will never forget. I haven’t yet read the book– but now I’m going to have to buy it. A friend recommended it to me a few years ago. I should have followed up back then. John Greene knows what he’s doing with these characters. I can’t wait to read it.

Spoiler alert! I adore that Hazel loves Gus enough to get ANGRY with him– to tell him that it’s arrogant of him to feel that he’s a failure because he hasn’t made some huge “impression” on the world professionally. Because his life matters to HER. Even if everyone else doesn’t love him, SHE does. And he has a responsibility to take care of himself and enjoy his life because she is not budging from his side. Her steadfast optimism is what saves Gus from giving into bitterness.

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