Although this is written in Hazel's book it does not mean I have read it, aside from the parts she allowed us to see at the time of her writing. I'm unsure of her intentions for it, it could be argued that a story demands to be heard, or in contrast that a personal account should, indeed, remain personal. Either way, I have not set eyes upon the words within. Maybe, in some ways, that makes me a respectable father but while of course her privacy is important, it is not the only reason.
As selfish as it is, I know that I cannot yet bare to relive the suffering and the loss which is enclosed within these pages. Through every moment of her illness Hazel was guaranteed to have this book by her side. I'm sure any parent would agree there is nothing worse to go through it, let alone live it through your child's eyes. So for that reason primarily, I have not read her book.
Equally as selfish, the Hazel I know was probably very different to the Hazel in these pages, I don't wish to change that now she is no longer here. Curious as I am, there is no doubt that there are parts of her I don't know and that is simply how it is. I question how many parents do truly know their children; the reality of it is that no matter how much we can shape their lives they are individuals.
Whether or not I will one day read it is a difficult decision and I'm not yet ready to face it. To me, it is not dissimilar to the scenario with the swing-set, I won't deny being somewhat saddened when it was sold. The now empty corner of the garden had once been a place of childhood happiness. Yet the object doesn't hold the memories, the mind does. Does that make the sentimentality of the object less valuable? No, but it is not needed to remember.
With that said this part is entirely for you, sweetheart.
Writing this here wasn't to finish your story because I don't think it needs an ending. Not all stories need an ending to be exceptional, you learnt that yourself from 'An Imperial Affliction'. I think I can finally understand both the novel and the concept now. Most of our stories finish midsentence, mid action or mid thought. There is no clean ending with all the details tied up. So writing here is just my way of making sure you have something of a message from me, to you. It might not be as colourful as Isaac's and Augustus', yet it’s none the less meaningful. Here, of all places seems the best place for it and I believe you'd agree.
One of the most important things I wanted to say, Hazel, is we're here for you. We're holding you close in our minds and hearts until the day we see you again. It is not necessary to talk about the loss we feel and how you shaped our world because you know that. It was inevitable, you knew that as well as I, that life will never quite be the same. Not a single day goes past where I don't think of you. However, your mother and I know how you'd kick us if we let our sadness rule us. So we're keeping our promise, as difficult as it is some days without you, our lives are still moving. I haven't broken a promise to you yet and that's not about to change.
I also wanted to update you, just in case you haven't had a chance to see for yourself yet. Or maybe you'd just like to hear it from your dad. Or maybe you won't hear it at all. Perhaps it's a fool’s comfort to write to you, I can only hope not. Your mother's training is going so well, in fact she's nearing completion of the course now. She'll be counselling children who are going through what you've gone through soon. I won't say children like you because you aren't and weren't your illness, there isn't anyone quite like you. Issac stops by every now and again, he's in remission now and is doing fantastically. He's still not convinced his other senses will ever accommodate his sightlessness but he seems happy in himself so who knows what his future holds?
It's a funny old life, Hazel. You would have thought by now, at my age, I would have worked it all out. The truth is, I don't think we ever get to work it out. Why is it some of us get longer to walk the earth than others? I don't believe there is a reason or greater meaning, it seems to be the brutally harsh reality of life. What I believe matters the most is not the duration of our time but how we use it. In my eyes, you lived for all the right reasons: for laughter, for friendship, for beautifully written words, for love, for thought, for sorrow, for experiencing and understanding what many cannot. I'm so proud of you for that.
As a final word, there are a lot of things I consider myself to be thankful for. I'm thankful for every moment I have shared with you. I'm thankful that you have always been aware of the love that your mother and I have for you, every step of the way, for to only tell someone you love them when it is too late is a terrible and tragic thing. Lastly, I'm grateful for everyone else who has loved you and told you so because you're the kind of girl who deserves to be cherished.
My God Hazel, your old man misses you.