Ceasing to Exist


I’ve been thinking a lot about death and dying recently. Not about my own death, but about it in the more abstract sense. About ceasing to exist.


I guess I should start by saying that I just read The Fault in Our Stars. I started it on Sunday night and finished it last night. I don’t I’ve ever read a more painfully beautiful story. What is it about a book that causes the hours to fly by? That keep you reading and reading, well after you should have turned the light out and gotten some dang sleep?

This book was like a sweet drug, pulling me in and forcing me to continue on, knowing that the end result would be pain. Because for me (and so many people in the world of childhood cancer), the fiction of this book is a reality. I sit in an office each day, surrounded by thank you notes and photos from children across the country, dead and alive. Kids who are at all stages in the battle against childhood cancer. Augustus was real for me. Because I interact with kids just like Augustus and Hazel every day.

Sometimes doing what I do puts my head an a very dark place. And it should. Kids are dying. 49 kids every week in the U.S. alone. While it feels good sometimes to know that I’m doing something about it, it also can put me in a dark place personally. It isn’t the kind of job you leave behind when you walk out the door at 5pm.

So perhaps my timing on reading The Fault in Our Stars wasn’t the best. But I’m still glad I read it.

The thing is, perhaps because of what I do, I spend more time than most worrying/wondering/being scared shitless about the afterlife. Most days, I’d consider myself Agnostic but a borderline atheist. I want not to be. I would love to believe in something. I just can’t. I get anxious every time I think about not thinking. About the fact that when you die you just die. That you just cease to exist. I have to consciously put the idea out of my mind or I’ll start to panic a bit. It terrifies me.

I, much like Augustus, want to feel like my life meant something. Because realistically, in 200 years no one will know I existed or had thoughts or feelings or fears or that I ate too much pizza and hated the color orange. It seems that historically, you have to do something either amazingly good or horiffically bad on a huge scale to be remembered. I probably won’t be. But I still want my life to mean something.

That’s all for today. Sorry for the weird mood.

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