At the beginning of last year my world came crashing down around me. My mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 small cell lung cancer. The prognosis the doctor gave her was about a year to 2 years to live. I know none of us are immune from death but to have an estimated timeframe makes it even more terrifying. Suddenly, I felt as though I had to make every single second count because the time I had with her was now narrowed down into a small window of life. I've read countless books where characters deal with situations like this and when this happened I wanted to be one of them myself. At least those characters got through their tragedies and hard times and it all resolved nicely in the end. Maybe they found love along the way or discovered their true destiny. There had to be something more to all of this, right? And what I wouldn't give to skip ahead to the end and see what was going to happen. If only life worked out that way, right?
The book "A Court of Wings and Ruin" had just been released before my mum was admitted to the hospital for a procedure to get her started with chemotherapy. To say I am obsessed with the "Court of Thrones and Roses" book trilogy would be an understatement but suddenly I found myself having a really hard time reading. It's like I could process the words on the page and I was turning pages but I couldn't retain the story like normal. I wasn't engaged and I almost considered putting the book down and giving up. Have you ever noticed how your reading habits often times dictate what you're going through in life? At that time of my life I wanted to just lie down and give up. I wanted to believe in a happy ending and that everything would be okay when the last page of the story was written, but what if it wasn't? The weight of reality was far too crushing to imagine going forward. Everything I loved felt like it was about to be taken from me and I was powerless to save it.
I went to work before my mum had her procedure and I was having a hard time focusing on that too. My manager walked over to ask how I was doing and how my mum was. We shared simple small talk. Then he said, "You're a writer and a reader. You have this kind of hope and optimism within you that makes you believe at any second a dragon could fly down from the sky. That hope you find in stories is what will get you through this, because anything is possible." Once he said that I realized he was right. Stories had given me this unique hope in life and belief that anything truly was possible and while I might not get a dragon flying in the sky maybe this part of my own story would be for something greater if I could just see it all the way through.
Well, I'm not a quitter. I will read a book I don't love just for the sake of finishing it till the end. And I suppose that same quality transfers into my life as well. I don't quit, no matter how much I wish sometimes I could. I like to believe it's my faith in God that keeps me going but whatever it is, I had to push on through. So, I continued reading "A Court of Wings and Ruin" even if it meant me re-reading a page over and over again until I made sense of it.
The day of my mum's procedure I was sitting in a very crowded hospital waiting room feeling anxious. I can remember clutching onto my book as if it were the only life line I had to keep me grounded and still. I sat there for hours reading about Feyre and Rhysand going into a battle they weren't sure they could win. For Feyre it felt as though she was going to lose everyone she loved and the world she knew was going to vanish. At times she felt powerless and hopeless but she refused to give up. As I sat there reading I began to find myself engaging with the story again because it felt like I was right there with these characters in Velaris terrified of what was going to happen but knowing no matter how hard it may be, I had to push on forward. In order to try and save her loved ones Feyre has to obtain a mirror that is rumoured to have made everyone that attempted to take it go crazy. She takes the risk because her love for Rhysand, her friends, and family, was far greater then herself. In that scene she is confronted by her own demons and fears. While going through this she remembers she had been told, "Only you can decide what breaks you, Cursebreaker, only you." That line gave me goosebumps when I first read it and seeing Feyre fight her own darkest self and conquer it made me feel the impact of that line even more.
I found myself sitting there in the hospital waiting room reminding myself, only I could decide what broke me and this was not going to be it. I was capable of getting through anything and just like Feyre I would fight till the end.
The day before my Mum began her first round of chemotherapy I had that quote tattooed on my arm. That way her and I both could look at it and be reminded we weren't powerless. We had the power to choose what would break us and and what would happen next in the story of our lives. I look at the tattoo everyday and it brings me hope that whatever the end of this story might be one thing is for certain...never give up. Don't stop reading just because life gets hard. Don't let the world tell you "it's just fiction" because to us, it's hope. Books are more than an escape or just great stories, they are a guide book for life and they remind us, like Feyre did, that we are the authors of the lives we want to live and the legacies we will leave behind. So what will yours be?