I’d wanted to watch “The fault in our stars” since it came out in theaters but I didn’t have the chance. It came out during my big move to another state. Actually, to be honest I avoided the chance. Because to watch this movie you don’t need a “chance”, you need time, time to prepare mentally, because you know it’s a movie that will make you cry, a movie that will bring back memories that are difficult to handle if you’ve had the chance –or rather the privilege- to work with terminal-cancer patients (the reason why it is a privilege requires a long explanation –and I’d like to give it when I have the chance / the time / the mental preparation to pour my heart out).
A few days ago on my long flight from Miami to Frankfurt, it was one of the movies offered on board. The stewardess passed by to offer drinks; I asked for white wine. Whatever helps, you know. I hit Play. It turned out to be an amazing movie from beginning to end, there was not a single second that you’d have wanted to hit Fast Forward. You wanted to watch every single moment carefully, breathe it in, feel how it feels; and the movie captures wonderfully how it feels. We medical interpreters working with cancer patients have an idea how it feels but it’s incomplete. We see it inside the hospital walls, but what happens outside those walls we can only imagine – unless we have a friend or relative with cancer (which is my case – and based on the statistics, it is the case for many of us).
Towards the end of the movie it was impossible to hold back the tears. I knew this was going to happen. I have never shed a tear in the hospital – it’s part of the job to be tough. But this time I was off duty and I was many thousands of feet over the Atlantic; so I let it out. When the guy next to me woke up (probably from all my sniffing) and saw me in that pathetic Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer state, he laughed. And then I started laughing too. We chatted for a bit while my movie was paused right before the final and really painful moment. Then he went back to sleep and I hit Play and went back to my crying and my excessive tissue consumption.
When the movie ended I took a few minutes to pull myself together, just like I always take a few minutes in silence after every appointment/interpreting assignment at the hospital. I know how to do this, it is second nature by now. And then I put on another movie, “Quand j’étais chanteur” with Gérard Depardieu, a comedy. And what a comedian this guy is! I burst into laughter when he started singing “je ne suis qu’une petite fille” (I’m just a little girl) with such pizazz! I laughed so hard I woke up my neighbor again. And I continued to watch, the movie went on just like life goes on, but the laughter had some traces of sadness, “leftovers” from the previous movie, just like our days go on with traces and memories of those hospital moments that we have the privilege to live, those moments in the lives of cancer patients that we have the privilege to share.