The Wrong Message in the Stars

If you haven't read, or watched, The Fault in Our Stars, and you intend to, you might want to stop right here. I'm going to give some of it away. As a teacher of adolescents, I try to read the popular fiction in the Young Adult genre. A while back, I read this book, well before I knew it would hit theaters.Jeremy knew I read it and he decided to pick up the DVD for a little downtime this weekend. That was tonight's entertainment.

The movie centers around two "star crossed" young lovers, Hazel and Augustus, who are both "cancer kids" (their words, not mine). The movie shows how they learn about love and life together, and grow up fast as I am certain anyone grappling with cancer at such a young age would be prone to do. There are some trite cliches, yes, but the book does a fairly good job of conveying authentic emotion and crafting characters in whom we can see flaws, but whom we also like.

But, as I have a knack for doing, I watched this movie and was left with emptiness from a scene that is secondary to the main plot.

Hazel overhears a statement made by her mother when she was younger and her doctors believed she was dying. The mother told Hazel's father that after her daughter died, "I won't be a mom anymore." When I read the line in the book, I thought, wow, how selfish. Your daughter is dying and all you can think about is you and whether or not you are a mom.

But, tonight, I felt a totally different emotion watching it play out on the screen.

It wasn't the touching love confessions between the two leads that made me sob. It wasn't the funeral scene, or even one of the leads attending "their" own funeral to hear the eulogies crafted by friends.

No, it was the moment where the mother tells her terminally ill daughter that she will always be a mother--her mother, even after Hazel dies. Then, she sealed the deal on tears by telling her being a mother was the best thing she has ever or will ever do.

After wrestling with infertility for so long, it was a direct blow. I get it. I really, really get it. I probably get it more than some women who have children. Being a mother is a blessing. It's a gift. It's extraordinary and wonderful and difficult and challenging and perplexing and exhausting and rewarding and a million other things. I understand that it is the best thing in the life of a parent. I can already feel that in my soul. How else do you think I've had the stamina to ensure the barrage of tests, treatments and various other humiliations that come along with infertility?

But, that joy, that sorrow, that pain, that triumph, that blessing... it's not mine. It's not me. I don't get to be in the club. I might never be in the club. I might never be anyone's mother, now or ever.

Jeremy and I had a talk about the fact that I am not one-dimensional. For those of you who only know me from the blog, perhaps you think I am. I promise, I am not. But, this unfulfilled dimension has been more difficult than any other thing I have ever tried. It has taken more mental space than I like and it refuses to be silent.  I'm not a mother to be. I'm not a mother in waiting. I no longer talk about "when" I have children, but instead have changed it to "if."

So, yes, I understand that infertility is not killing me. I know it is not a terminal disease. But, infertility could be a terminal diagnosis for the one role I have wanted more than anything for quite some time. Infertility could be the death of my dream of parenthood. My role as a mother could be over before it even begins.

I'm not saying I understand the loss of a pregnancy or child. But, I do understand loss. As with any other loss, it's difficult and unpredictable.... and there's no one and nothing to blame. So, we'll put it back on the stars, like the title of the book, and wonder why the stars, the universe, or whatever you want to credit with it, decided I deserved this particular fate.


  1. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I have been asking that question a lot lately, wondering "why the stars, the universe, or whatever you want to credit with it, decided I deserved this particular fate." I do not believe that there's a reason for everything, because WHAT POSSIBLE REASON COULD THERE BE for this kind of loss and suffering and pain? I am still in the "when" camp for children, but no longer for pregnancy. I'm not sure that is an experience I will ever have. I agree with you that it is ever-present, and unfair, and that there is an ebbing and flowing of hope that at times feels cruel. I'm thinking of you as you wrestle with these questions, and I can only hope that there is a resolution to this pain, and that someday this will be a raw memory, but that it won't be the oozing thing that smothers us on a daily basis.


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