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Don’t Read Sad Books, Then Talk On The Phone

The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.

LaurieShe read it and posted on Facebook how good it was.  When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun.  I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.

The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on  Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.

The back yard 1

Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California.  Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture.  The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me.  In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.

Indianapolis street

I am driving up a street near our former home in Indianapolis, IN.

I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book).  I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home.  These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.

Who names their kids Hazel?  Grandma Morris had a sister,  Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something?  It’s so Hoosier.


Can you find Grandma Morris? Aunt Hazel is probably there, too.

In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation.  They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting.  The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.

“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders.   “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call.  Could you please call her?”

My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee.  You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”

I’m the emotional one.  Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory.  She is not there.  I have to look up her cell phone.  She answers after a few rings.

“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.

“I’m in Utah.”

“Who are you with?”

This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point.  I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it.  Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk.  I wish I had listened to my gut.

“A couple of ladies from church.”

I’m at a complete loss.  Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little.  It turned out that she knew.

“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.

“OK,” I replied and hung up.  I never felt dumber and more useless.

Moral:  When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.

Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s amazing.

28 replies »

  1. So sorry you had to grapple with such a call suddenly and then, making that call that was difficult already, you also had to contend with sudden inappropriate tears and arresting emotion- I can’t imagine how bad that must have felt. How doleful for your friend, indeed…such tragic news. Hugs to you both. 😦

    I do think your call was appreciated, nonetheless, and the caring was certainly felt. I know that I would have felt it indeed.

    I can sadly relate to a few instances of inappropriate emotion welling up suddenly and the intense anguish felt at the debilitation it caused. One time it was at school. The biology instructor was disturbed, wondered why on earth I was weeping amongst the bunsen burners and the beakers as I came staggering into class late that morning. I was such a control-crazed nut that I could NOT control the sadness I felt at merely being late! I was usually at school by 5 am every morning. The bio-instructor did not believe this explanation as I attempted to whisper it to him. I could hear his brain scraping away. His eyes narrowed. He did not accept this. No, there was some deep underlying disturbance in this lass- a troubled character, for sure. The odd hair she has, the strange purple scar on her wrist and that ridiculous story about her cat having leaped off it, I don’t believe that for a second. Suicidal, I bet. An attempt. And then the identity crisis. She doesn’t even go by her real name. No, she insists on being called Barbara ( I liked, and still like, being called Babs, which is short for Babulous, of course, but he thought it was short for Barbara and called me “Barbs” despite my clarifying that it was Babulous several times)- anyhow, then the bawling over being “late”- No no no. Something must have happened to make her late, something dark and terrible, some trauma that is clearly chewing her up! I was suddenly a suicidal teen in trouble, and he treated me accordingly no matter how much I tried to reason with him. This friction was only worsened by the fact that his science was terribly out-dated and he was not open at all to the latest research of the time. Not even to bringing it up, even. So we did not get on. I almost bawled again when he refused to let me do a report on how trauma changes the chemistry of the brain. I was fascinated with the neurological changes that occur in the brains of those with severe PTSD for example. You should have seen the look on his face. It was as if he had just put a charcoaled mouse into his mouth by mistake. BLAST!

    As for the glimpse into the book you were reading, it sounds like my kind of thing. The sadder, more melancholy and noir, with a touch of black humour, the more I adore it- this book sounds like just the thing for me. I have never heard of it. Shall have to go tottling about looking for it.


    • Wow, what a story! What a grumpy teacher! I can’t imagine! I thought I was a sensitive one, but you are right there with me! I’m sure I have cried about being late at one time or another – if I was brave enough to enter the room late. My life sure is different now. I go late, early – mostly late! I am not shy – too often. It got easier for me to push myself out there after years of having to do it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, a right bummer indeed. I think I am at the opposite extreme, now. I did not even cry when Sir accidentally hit a cute little baby raccoon some weeks ago…Sir, on the other hand, and appropriately I think, wept away. Sir is very sensitive and caring, aye. I am just an old haggard slab of limestone, aye that I am. Cold and laconic. One of the last times I did bawl was over “Brothers Karamazov”, and that was years ago, and rather pathetic- I was sobbing away in a tree at the time and poor passersby below were whirling around in befuddlement, wondering what the peculiar racket was and why a tree appeared to be crying.

            I admire this sensitivity in you. An admirable quality. You are a compassionate and caring lassie, indeed. What is that silly song this reminds me of? “It doesn’t take a talent to be mean” was a lyric. One moment- here it is:


            Autumn Jade


          • OK, I don’t have proof of your meanness no matter what you keep telling me. 🙂 Sir, though, I believe is a kind and sensitive soul. A truly nice person. So are you doing anything that particularly excites you this summer?


          • Main activity for this summer is obtaining work, aye aye. Sir is trying to find work out there in California, and I am always seeking more dog gigs. And always- spending time with the Sea.

            Do you have anything lovely planned for this summer?


          • A trip you’d love to HI, a few jaunts up to Oakland, and that’s it for the summer. Write, write, write. I hope Sir can find something here. That would be lovely. If not, I’m going to just have to come there to meet you one of these days!!! 🙂


          • Sounds absolutely divine! Yes, he is working on it har har. Oh that would be lovely! We shall see har har. Hope all is going well with you there over this past week. Cheers,

            Autumn Jade


  2. I haven’t read it yet, Marsha – but I’m really looking forward to it (though I don’t normally do sad books, I hear it’s brilliant) 😉


  3. Oh, what sad news to receive on such a lovely afternoon. It must have been really difficult to make that call, Marsha. At such a distance, one always feels helpless, but you did what you could, and your friend knows that you care. xx


    • We’ve been friends for 30 years, and I know she does know that I care, but I felt horrible. Sometimes it is not good to cry, inappropriate even, and I felt this might have been one of those times. Nonetheless, it won’t wreck our friendship, it was just a horrible, horrible time for her family.


    • I’ll bet. The book is amazing. I want to change mine enough so that the drama rings out over any romance that it has in it. This is a must read! 🙂 Some bad language, though, but it seems appropriate given the seriousness of the situations. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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