The Fault in Our Stars is written by someone my age about teenagers dying of cancer. The teenagers are adorably articulate and wry, which is what happens when they are written by clever fortysomethings – see also Juno and The Gilmore Girls. But I cried and cried for Wendy, who was just that funny anyway at fourteen, and for Jen, who at forty-three knew exactly what she was leaving behind. Glioblastoma, leukaemia.
The Still Point of the Turning World is written by Emily Rapp, who lost her son Ronan in February. He was three. Tay-Sachs. I’ve become violently allergic to the notion of meritocracy because of its implication that there are people who are without merit. Jen never made much money. Wendy never finished high school. Ronan never learned to speak. What does that make them? Emily Rapp says:
If you love but the love is never known by the other person as the love you bear for them, is that love wasted? I eventually realized that this way of thinking was more about ego than anything else, and that no love is ever wasted; in fact, the most precious love is often the kind that isn’t returned, and that is given freely.
I’ve realized it is my most deeply held political conviction that all are created equal. A person’s performance as an economic agent under late capitalism is about as relevant as their performance in chess or dressage or sport aerobics to what they are actually worth. Every person is a planet with a diamond core, a Tardis, bigger on the inside. We can’t possibly love anyone enough, but we can try.
Rumpus: What did Ronan smell like?
Rapp: Rice and shampoo. Sleep.
Rumpus: I know what it felt like for me to hold Ronan. What did it feel like for you?
Rapp: It felt like holding the world.