Not Your Average Support Group, Teen Birthday & Fault in Our Stars

They joined her support group Saturday.  What kind of support?  The best kind, for celebration and friendship.  Do we need cancer to support each other?

The book The Fault in Our Stars opens with John Green’s characters meeting in their cancer support group.   One character’s family leaves “encouragements” around the house, like “Live your best day today.”  Why?  Because the story is tragic and traumatic, and life is transient.  The teens are terminally ill and who wants to read about that?

I didn’t.

But I did, and

I’m glad I did.

The book’s humor is wicked, witty, razor sharp and I laughed out loud more than for any other book this year.  But there’s a price.   You pay for the laughter in tears.

So this support group that I mention is to celebrate my daughter’s life.  That’s right.  In the book, Hazel’s mom celebrates every holiday and each half year of life because it’s only fair.  Right?  Hazel’s lucky to live into her 20s.

My daughter chose this book as the theme for her birthday games, an annual tradition that is part scavenger hunt, amazing race, and puzzle.  And friends came to join her support group. And they realized by comparison how lucky they are.

We joined hands because my daughter’s friend asked to do so.  And I said the serenity prayer.  You know it.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Next were introductions:    Name, Age, Diagnosis.

I introduced my daughter, “15 years & 6 days, she is a bibliophile with NEC no evidence of cancer, a high school student, with good friends.  Thank you for coming today.”

For the games, the teens wrote their eulogies.  They wrote a team metaphor.  They wrote encouragements.

And they learned something.

You don’t have to be dying to support each other.

Activities included “getting in character”

Anne Frank Climb:  3 stories, carrying a fifth body weight wearing respirator

Isaac’s Revenge, “blind” egging

“Find Sysiphus the hamster and tell him how his story ends.”  For the games this year, the teens ventured around the town and coaxed answers from strangers to important questions from the story.

Here are some winning submissions from the teens themselves.

Metaphor:

Cancer is an angel’s caterpillar, eventually it moves on, giving its host their wings.

My lungs are flooded by a river of death.

Life is like a tree; you can’t avoid the lumberjack.

Encouragements:

Even the tallest waves only last a shore-t while.

Discover your inner unicorn.

You will never sink if you keep treading.

Eulogy;

CB’s death was a tragedy.  His life was cut too short, but looking back he lived well. He did well in school, he had fun, and he had good friends.  He worried a lot about the simplest of things.  We won’t remember him for his worries.  We will remember him for the happy life he lived.

MG was a very special person.  She was funny and kind. She lived in Stamford.  She is sorry she couldn’t attend today.  Something came up …..

DS was a boy.  He had almost made it through his sister’s boring party, but not quite.  His humor was not always understood. When it was though, it was highly respectable. To his grave, he brought his video games for endless entertainment.  His sister also was brought for company.

SN’s death is a GRAVE occurrence.  Her jokes could sometimes make you DIE with laughter. Whenever someone dies, it is important not to BURY your feelings.  Therefore we must ASH ourselves how SN impacted our lives.  She will surely be missed and her legacy will last until our DYING days.

To appreciate why my daughter chose The Fault in Our Stars, read her review mybooktroll, I forgot to eat.

About mylinhshattan

MyLinh B. Shattan is a writer who has worked in the private sector, taught at college, and served in the U.S. Army. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from West Point, an M.B.A. from Florida Southern College, and an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University.