Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Part 3)

The iTunes Store. There were many illegal file sharing websites like Kazaa, Napster etc. Steve wanted a legal way to download music. The music companies wanted to copy protect their music. Apple decided to work with Sony on that (Warner-Sony). Sony backed out and worked with Universal to create Pressplay. This was a subscription service to music. Steve hated stealing and piracy. Steve wanted the top 5 record companies to sell through the iTunes store. Steve wanted 99 cents per song, with the record company getting 70 cents. Musicians were unhappy that Steve allowed sale of single songs. According to him, tech companies don’t appreciate artists, and music companies don’t know technology. Steve convinced the music companies to sell through iTunes. Doug Morris was head of UMG. Steve had the vision that music companies were lacking. Morris loved Steve. He agreed to join Apple, instead of partnering with Sony. Sony was a good company, just that their divisions never collaborated and there was no synergy. Andy Lack was head of Sony Music. He knew that if Sony sold music through iTunes, Apple would be making a lot of money. He was angry by that fact. Eventually, Sony agreed to sell through iTunes. Persuading the record companies was one thing, now Steve had to approach the musicians. He went to the major artistes, including Bono, Mick Jagger etc. iTunes was released in Apr 2003. iTunes provided smoother and faster downloads. This was the turning point of the music industry. Microsoft was amazed at how Apple had managed to convince the record companies. Microsoft wanted to compete with iTunes. Microsoft tried to copy, but this time they couldn’t. Apple allowed the iPod to work with Windows. Steve was very against this initially. Apple also produced iTunes for Windows, so that more PC users could own an iPod. iTunes for Windows was launched in Oct 2003. Microsoft introduced Zune in 2006, 3 years later. It had very low market share. Sony’s divisions did not co-operate. This led to their downfall. Apple didn’t have divisional P&L. It was one P&L for the company. Steve was not afraid of cannibalizing yourself. Sony Connect was introduced. It was similar to iTunes. It failed miserably. In Jan 2004, the iPod Mini was released in the market. The iPod Mini was a huge success. In 2005, the iPod Shuffle was also a big hit. People loved to shuffle songs sometimes. ‘Embrace uncertainty’. Apple got rid of the screen. By 2007, iPod sales were half of Apple’s revenues. The iTunes was also a huge success. By June 2011, Apple had a database of over 225 million users.

With Andy, it was mostly about his big ego. He never really understood the music business, and he could never really deliver. I thought he was sometimes a dick. – Steve Jobs

With iTunes, it’s not stealing anymore. It’s good karma. – Steve Jobs

Steve Job’s ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right, and market things as revolutionary are amazing things. – Bill Gates

The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out. If you don’t love something you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much. – Steve Jobs

If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will. – Steve Jobs

It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your own character. – Steve Jobs

I don’t care much about computers, and kept telling him so, but he goes on for 2 hours. He was a man possessed. After a while, I started looking at him and not the computer, because I was so fascinated with his passion. – Wynton Marsalis, a famous jazz musician

Music Man (The Sound Track of His Life). Revealing your iPod to your friends can reveal what kind of person you are. Music reveals who you are. Steve liked the Beatles and Bob Dylan. He had a lot of artistes from the 1960s and 1970s. Steve liked Bach. Both the Brandenburg concertos and the Goldberg Variations. The second version was much darker and wiser. Steve also preferred the second version. Joni Mitchell was also his favorite artistes. Steve visited Dylan before one of his concerts. Steve was really nervous. Steve was really impressed with him. Artists knew that if they appeared in Steve’s ads, they would have added publicity. Dylan, to Steve, was still cool. After an ad featured him, he was top of the charts again. Beatles was still not on iTunes. Steve made sure they were eventually on it. Bono, from U2, wanted a riff from Vertigo played in an iPod commercial. iPod commercials featured silhouettes of artistes. Bono wanted a special version of the iPod released and royalties for each one sold. Eventually, Steve agreed to a deal with U2. Steve also like YoYo Ma, the famous cellist. He played Bach at Steve’s house. Steve teared by the sheer quality of his playing ability. Steve liked people who are pure. Pure with passion. He made YoYo Ma promise that he will play at his funeral.

He was one of my heroes. My love for him has grown over the years, it’s ripened. I can’t figure out how he did it when he was so young. – Steve Jobs, on Bob Dylan

The way we build stuff at Apple is often this way. Even the number of models we’d make of a new notebook or iPod. We would start off with a version and then begin refining and refining, doing detailed models of the design, or the buttons, or how a function operates. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it just gets better, and soon it’s like, ‘Wow, how did they do that?!? Where are the screws? – Steve Jobs

Steve (Jobs) can be sparky, but those moments have made us closer friends, because there are not many people in your life where you can have these robust discussions. He’s very opinionated. After our shows, I talk to him and he’s always got an opinion. – Bono, from U2

You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this. – Steve Jobs, on YoYo Ma

Pixar’s friends and Foes. Lasseter set the tone at Pixar. He let the creative people do the work quietly and did not want to interfere excessively. Steve was more into deal making. Steve clashed with Katzenberg when he accused him of stealing the Bug’s Life from Pixar and adopting it for Antz at Dreamworks. Lasseter was super pissed with Katzenberg and didn’t speak to him. It was Lasseter who first revealed that Pixar was doing an animated film on insects. Antz was released in the market first. . The Bug’s Life did twice as well as Antz, thankfully. Although Steve and Katzenberg was still on talking terms, Steve never really forgave him. Steve wanted a HQ for Pixar. The building was Steve’s movie. The building was designed such that people would keep bumping into each other in a central area. Michael Eisner’s Disney started to get aggressive at Steve Jobs. Steve didn’t want to deal with Disney anymore. Finding Nemo became the biggest hit so far. Lasseter was upset with the breakup with Disney. Steve explained why they had to break up. To Steve, Eisner was a creative guy who performed well in his first 10 years when he had Frank Wells to run the operations for him. After he left, for the next 10 years, Eisner didn’t do such a good job. He had poor managerial skills. Treasure Planet and Brother Bear from Disney were poor performers. Now, Eisner realized how bad his animation team was. Both Eisner and Steve refused to compromise. Therefore, a divorce was inevitable. Eisner was soon axed and replaced with Iger. Steve now tried again at striking a deal with Disney. The iPod video was soon released. Iger and Steve struck a deal. The iPod would also be selling TV shows. This was collaboration between Disney and Apple. Since their animation team sucked, Iger explored the possibility of buying Pixar. Iger admitted they missed Pixar. Steve usually started negotiating by proclaiming the other party sucked. Lasseter was shocked when learning that Disney might want to buy Pixar. Disney produced to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion in equity. Lasseter did all the pitching in the acquisition deal. Eisner was against this and wanted the animation team to get their act together. Steve did the announcement to Pixar employees that Disney was taking over. Catmull would be head of Disney animation and Lasseter would be chief creative officer. It was like a reverse acquisition. Toy Story 2 was an even bigger hit.

My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies. Walt Disney did that. And the way we did the merger, we kept Pixar as a great company and helped Disney remain one as well. – Steve Jobs

There’s a classic thing in business, which is the second-product syndrome. I live through that at Apple. My feeling was, if we got through our second film, we’d make it. – Steve Jobs, on Pixar

There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow’, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas. – Steve Jobs

The worst, thing, to my mind, was that Pixar had successfully reinvented Disney’s business, turning out great films one after the other while Disney turned out flop after flop. You would think the CEO of Disney would be curious how Pixar was doing that. But during the 20 year relationship, he visited Pixar for a total of about 2 and a half hours, only to give little congratulatory speeches. He was never curious. I was amazed. Curiosity is very important. – Steve Jobs

He has the absolute ability to make you believe. Suddenly, we all had the confidence that, whatever happened, Pixar would flourish. – Oren Jacob

One of the things that Steve and I are incredibly excited about is the intersection between great content and great technology. – Bob Iger

It’s night and day different from Eisner’s Disney. He’s straightforward, and there’s no drama with him. – Steve Jobs, on Bob Iver

Michael (Eisner), how come you say I can fix it, when you couldn’t fix it yourself? – Bob Iger

21st Century Macs. Setting Apple Apart. The iBook was released in 1999. The G4 was a huge success as well. Jobs wanted to mass market something to consumers. The Cube would not do so well as it priced too expensive. In 2000, Apple had disappointing revenue results. At one point, their share price fell to $15. Flat displays were the in thing then. Finally, Steve and Jony thought of a laptop design. Apple was the only company still trying to innovate. The PowerPC chips they were using was faster than Intel for a few years. Motorola could not keep us with chip development and Steve wanted to switch to Intel chips. The board decided that they had to move to Intel. They hammered out a deal which impressed Bill Gates. He was surprised that Apple’s PCs could transition so seamlessly with different chips. Steve was accused of taking excessive executive compensation with his stock options. It was never about the money for Steve. He wanted even more stock options. Apple tried to backdate his options. This was discovered by the SEC. Steve was eventually not charged for doing that.

Round One

Memento Mori. Steve predicted that 1997 was the cause of his cancer, when he worked on two jobs full time. His immune system was rather weak at that time. A CAT scan in 2003 revealed a tumor in the pancreas. Steve was in denial and didn’t want to do it. The doctor identified it as a tumor. It was a tumor which had a chance to be treated successfully. To everyone’s horror, Steve didn’t want to have surgery at first. He wanted to try other methods to cure himself. He was not ready to go for surgery. He thought he could cure himself by eating nutritious foods. Everyone kept advising him to take the surgery. Steve was still living in his distortion reality field. He liked to ignore things he didn’t know how to deal with. By July 2004, the cancer had spread. He underwent surgery in 2004. The doctors only removed part of the pancreas. Tim Cook took over the operations in Aug 2004. Because of the lack of protein in his diet, doctors advised him to take more meat. He refused. The bad news was that the cancer had spread. The cancer had spread to his liver. He underwent chemotherapy. He lied to his friends, saying that he was ‘cured’. He was 50 when he gave the commencement speech at Standford University. He wrote the speech himself. It was simply a graceful speech. Famous colleagues attended his 50th birthday. Cook was calm and decisive when he took over as temporary CEO. Steve made Cook COO in 2005. Steve let Rubinstein leave eventually. He hired a professor to develop case studies on Apple so that new executives could learn from top management. ‘Memento mori’: Remember you will die. This helped to keep things in perspective. Steve recovered temporarily and worked even harder. He became somewhat a better person after his cancer episode. Ive was still perplexed by his behavior. Steve felt the rules of social engagement didn’t apply to him. Gates and Jobs sat in for a joint interview in 2007.

I think Steve has such a strong desire for the world to be a certain way that he wills it to be that way. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Reality is unforgiving. – Laurene Powell

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs

Some people resent the fact that Steve Jobs gets credit for everything, but I’ve never given a rat’s ass about that. Frankly speaking, I’d prefer my name never be in the paper. – Tim Cook, new Apple CEO

I realized very early that if you didn’t voice your opinion, he would mow you down. He take contrary positions to create more discussion, because it may lead to a better result. So if you don’t feel comfortable disagreeing, then you’ll never survive. – Tim Cook

The iPhone. Three Revolutionary Products in One. By 2005, iPod sales were skyrocketing. It accounted for 45% of total revenue. The next step was to create a phone. A good phone competitor could cause iPod sales to plunge. Steve thought about partnering with Ed Zander, CEO of Motorola, to create a RAZR that could play music. Eventually, hardware and software with not in sync and integrated. Steve decided to work on his own model. Most of the phones in the market were too complicated. There was a huge market for phones. They wanted to modify the iPod. Eventually, they did away with the click wheel. The idea for the iPad came before the iPhone. A Microsoft kept revealing information about the tablet to Steve. Steve never liked the idea of a stylus. He made one without a keyboard and a stylus. His engineers took 6 months to come out with one prototype. Steve liked the idea of multi-touch technology. Apple bought over FingerWorks, a company dealing with multi-touch trackpads. Steve wanted rounded rectangles for the shape of the iPhone. They used anodized aluminum for the case and gorilla glass. Steve was impressed with Weeks idea of gorilla glass. It was technology developed in 1960s, but never utilized. Once again, Steve decided to change the design at the last minute. Jan 2007 was the release date for the iPhone. ‘It was a 3-in-1 device’. By end of 2010, it sold 90 million iPhones.

He’s always believed that thin is beautiful. You can see that in all of the work. We have the thinnest notebook, the thinnest smartphone, and we made the iPad thin and then even thinner. – Tim Cook

Round Two (The Cancer Recurs). In early 2008, the cancer was spreading. The pancreas failed to produce enzymes to digest proteins. He also still kept to a strict vegetarian diet, which made it worse. Their family hired a cook. His eating disorders got worse. The media soon was attacking Steve Jobs at hiding his health condition to the public. During the 3G iPhone launch, he was super thin. Apple said was it due to a common bug. Apple share price kept falling when Steve’s health got worse. Steve based out of an interview with Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Michael Dell. He also cancelled the Mac product show. In early 2009, he defended his absence by saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He tried various forms of therapy overseas. It didn’t work. He decided to take medical leave in early Jan, 2009. Tim Cook would take over the daily operations. SEC wanted to accuse Apple of withholding material information about Steve’s health. The board at Apple was torn as to whether to reveal more information about his health. Fisher was now saying that Steve needed a liver transplant. However, there was a long waiting list. Steve was placed on 2 different states’ waiting list at the same time. The liver transplant was a success. There were tumors throughout his liver when it was removed. He nearly died at that time. Even when doctors tried to put the mask on him, he commented that the design sucked. Steve recovered from this episode and he was still as grumpy as ever. Apple’s stock fared well in the time that he was away. He faced the public again in Sept 9. He revealed that he received a liver transplant. He revealed the new iPod Nanos. At the beginning of 2010, it would be one of his more productive years.

To manage Steve, you have to be persistent. Eason managed Steve and forced him to do things that no one else could, things that were good for him that may not have been pleasant. – Tim Cook

The iPad. Into the Post-PC era. As usual, Steve kept tinkering with the design. Apple licensed the ARM architecture. They used the A4 chip instead, instead of dealing with Intel. Intel was too slow sometimes. The iPad was launched in Jan 2010. It was in between the iPhone and a laptop. Bill Gates and some of the media was not impressed with it. There were a lot of emails complaints that were sent to Steve Jobs. Steve wanted the next version of the iPad to emphasize on artistic creation. The response was mixed and there were some media groups who liked it. It was very intuitive and easy to use. Even a 6 year old could figure it out. Sales were extremely good. It was one of the most successful consumer product launch in history. Steve was angry with the quality of commercials and he wanted something better. It had to be a manifesto. It had to be big. The app store was becoming huge and it allowed people to do all sorts of things. They needed to empower develops to make lots of apps. Steve allowed outsiders to write apps, but they would have to meet standards and could only be sold through the iTunes store. The App store opened in July 2008. Apple was also competing with Amazon on ebooks. He allowed the publishers to set their own price but not the music companies to do so. Steve wanted to work with NY times to strike a deal.Steve refused to give out subscriber info to the NY times. He didn’t want the publisher to develop their own app and sell it through the iTunes store. He also succeeded in convincing a few magazine or newspaper publishers. Rupert Murdoch and Steve became quite close. Steve now wanted to target schools and replace textbooks with his iPad.

The reason Apple can create products like the iPad is that we’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. – Steve Jobs

New Battles (And Echoes of Old Ones). Google created the Android operating system to compete with Apple in the phone market. Eric Schmidt was on the Apple board and Larry Page/Sergey Brin were close to Steve as well. He was pissed. Their multi-touch device was also similar to the iPhone. Steve tried to dissuade them from creating the Android. Apple sued HTC (as they were the first to create the multi-touch device). Steve wanted to destroy the Android. Google Docs was shit to Steve. There was always the debate between open and closed systems. Schmidt admitted that Apple always believed in a closed system. An open system would lead to more options and consumer choice. Apple want to ban apps that defamed people, were politically explosive or deemed to be pornographic. He had a verbal sparring with Tate regarding censorship of apps. Apple doesn’t want to be seen as restricting freedom by choosing the apps they wanted to display. Others starting seeing Steve and Apple as being very arrogant. Design vs engineering was a big problem at Apple. Whenever the engineers couldn’t do something, Steve would persuade them to keep trying. For the iPhone 4, if you held it in a certain way, one could lose connection. It became the Antennagate problem. Steve Jobs gave a press conference to the public to address this. He allowed people to return their phones. Only 1.7% did as the problem was not too serious. iPhone was the best selling product. The Beatles were finally released on iTunes in a special edition.

Adobe Flash is a spaghetti-ball piece of technology that has lousy performance and really bad security problems. – Steve Jobs

To Infinity (The Cloud, the Spaceship, and Beyond). The iPad 2. Steve wanted to add back and front cameras. He wanted it slimmer. He wanted a detachable cover that was magnetically controlled. It was a smart cover. This cheeky cover impressed many people. He was there for the product launch in Mar 2011. Globalization effects were everywhere, even in Turkey. He kept trying to design a boat again. He was determined to keep working on the boat’s design. It was his twentieth wedding anniversary. In 2008, he predicted that cloud computing would be the next big thing. He was right on that. iCloud was launched in June 2011. He was still on medical leave. However, he desperately wanted to give the speech. Steve looked weak. Everything would now be moved to the Cloud. Steve bought the Cupertino campus. He wanted a showcase HQ. Sir Norman Foster was the architect for the project.

It’s like a spaceship has landed. I think we have a shot at building the bet office building in the world. – Steve Jobs

It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. We believe that it’s technology married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing. Nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices, – Steve Jobs

Living with a disease like this, and all the pain, constantly reminds you of your own mortality, and that can do strange things to your brain if you’re not careful. You don’t make plans more than a year out, and that’s bad. You need to force yourself to plan as if you will live for many years. – Steve Jobs

I’m very lucky, because you just don’t know what you’re getting into when you get married. You have an intuitive feeling about things. I couldn’t have done better, because not only is Laurene smart and beautiful, she’s turned out to be a really good person. – Steve Jobs

I want to leave a signature campus that expresses the values of the company for generations. – Steve Jobs

Round Three (The Twilight Struggle). He had a burning desire to see his son graduate from high school. Unlike his dad, Reed was empathic and affectionate. He loved Steve. The moment his Dad had cancer, Reed spent time at the oncology lab to study about cancer markers. Reed could interact with many of the famous doctors. Reed wanted to combine biology and technology. He had a playful and warm personality. He wanted to be a cancer researcher when he grew up. At his high school graduation, Steve was elated. Erin, Steve’s daughter, was not very close to Steve as she was sensitive and quiet. Steve didn’t want to take her for any important events. Erin was fine with Steve treating her this way. Steve took the whole family to Kona Village for holiday. He even took them to Kyoto. Steve liked sushi and soba. The trip to Kyoto was also a spiritual one. Eve, Steve’s other daughter, wanted to be a horseback rider at the Olympics and was determined to get there. She was also a very sensitive girl. In Feb 2010, Steve turned 55. His health was now better. Powell arranged for Steve to meet President Obama. However, Steve was unwilling to meet him as he felt it was very ceremonial. Eventually the meeting lasted 45 minutes. He wanted Obama to make things more business friendly as there were too many regulations. Also, the American education systems had too many union work rules. He also wanted interactive educational materials. Steve wanted foreign engineering graduates a visa to stay in the US. He also wanted more trained engineers. His third medical leave took place in 2011. He lost his appetite and felt pain in his body. In Nov 2010, he had to be fed through tube. However, he didn’t want his condition to be leaked out. He had no appetite anymore. He also became increasingly emotional. In 2011, there was evidence of new tumors. At this stage, he was moaning in pain. Since young, he knew he could induce euphoria and ecstasy by fasting. He was absolutely ignorant about the need for medication or to seek professional help. Tim Cook was once again put in charge of Apple’s operations. His treatment was not integrated but taken care by many different specialists. Steve had his genes sequenced. This molecular therapy was better than chemotherapy. Lisa got back in touch with Steve then. Lisa was 32 then. Steve Jobs even told Larry Page how to build great companies. Bill Gates also came to pay a visit. They had a nice warm chat. That Day Has Come. Steve wanted to create an integrated television set that would be synced on the iCloud. By July 2011, the cancer had spread to the other parts of his body. He spent almost all his days watching television. The author met him in Aug 2011. Steve was too weak to get out of bed. Steve showed a few family pictures to Walter Isaacson. Steve wanted the author to write about him while he was still alive so that he could project a better account of himself. He knew he would not be returning to CEO anymore. In Aug 24, he announced the decision to the board that he was stepping down. The directors praised his contributions to the firm. Resolutions were passed on who would succeed him. It was decided that Tim Cook would succeed Steve Jobs. The board gave Steve a hug.

She’s a pistol and has the strongest will of any kid I’ve ever met. – Steve Jobs, on Eve

Like many great men whose gifts are extraordinary, he’s not extraordinary in every realm. He doesn’t have social graces, such as putting himself in other people’s shows, but he cares deeply about empowering humankind, the advancement of humankind, and putting the right tools in their hands. – Laurene Powell

That’s how I’m going to spend part of the time I have left. I can help the next generation remember the lineage of great companies here and how to continue the tradition. The Valley has been very supportive of me. I should do my best to repay. – Steve Jobs

I’ve had a very lucky career, a very lucky life. I’ve done all that I can do. – Steve Jobs

Legacy. The Brightest Heaven of Invention. His personality was reflected in the products Apple created. He was super intense at times. This could be either charming or terrifying. He had a binary view of the world and of almost everything. He wanted end-to-end control of every product. Steve always looked to integrate hardware and software. ‘Open’ VS ‘Closed’ software. Steve also had a good ability to focus and to filter out distractions. Everything was about simplicity and elegance. He was a brutally honest guy. He had a nasty personality and was mean to others. This had an advantage when he got people to do things they never dreamed of. He was both good at sizing up the big picture and also the minute details. His inventions are as follows (The Macintosh; Toy Story and other Pixar blockbusters; Apple stores; The iPod; The iTunes store; The iPhone; The App Store; The iPad; iCloud etc). He was a genius at sensing what lay ahead. Steve can be placed alongside Edison and Ford. The products were the motivation, not the profit. Sculley wanted to make money. Figure out what the customer wants and not give them what they want. You need good foresight of that. Being closed allow you to control the experience. Bill Gates was more of a business guy than a creative guy. Xerox and IBM let the salespeople run the show. They didn’t understand the product well. I wanted a company to last. He wanted everyone to be brutally honest with each other.

I hate it when people call themselves entrepreneurs when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. – Steve Jobs

What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how – because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talent we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what has driven me. – Steve Jobs

stevejobs

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Foreword. I only knew Paul after his death. After he was diagnosed with cancer, he had a desire to write a book. We become aware of our own mortality after reading his book as well. Paul had a flair of writing, however, had a calling of being a physician. He would eventually be a neurosurgeon. Paul writes occasionally and was an excellent writer. Paul has been very vulnerable and revealed a lot about himself.

Prologue. The cancer had spread and was widely disseminated. I was the patient this time. Lucy was my wife and she was by my side. When I had back pain, I went for an MRI scan. X-rays aren’t good for detection of cancer. Weight loss became more common as the days went by. I was an outstanding surgeon and had a bright career ahead of me. A few weeks later, I had strong bouts of chest pain. My work and the demanding schedule had put a toll on our marriage. My wife wanted to leave me. The pain was getting more severe and I was in trouble. I also started to tell friends about my cancer. My wife learnt about it and promised not to leave me.

Part 1: In Perfect Health I Begin

I never thought that I would be a doctor. I didn’t know much about medicine when I was young. We had two dogs. Once, we went to the desert and found the insects there to be fascinating. My younger brother was Jeevan. My dad was the one who brought our family to the desert town of Kingman, in Arizona. The issue with Kingman was that the education system was bad and there were many dropouts. My mum instilled in us, a love of reading. I eventually got into Stanford University. I liked a girl named Abigail in school. In school, I was driven to understand what makes human life meaningful? One of my favorite authors, was T.S. Eliot. Literature was a form of moral reflection for me. Was the unlived life worth examining? I did an internship at Sierra Camp, which was very eye opening indeed. I studied both neuroscience and literature in school. Many of the caregivers will not even show up to pay the patients of severe brain problems. Some parents even abandon their kids. Brains indeed play a crucial role in our ability to form relationships. Language of life was a passion, hunger and a love. I studied the work of Walt Whitman. I wanted to find out how biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersected. I was contemplating medical school now. After I enrolled myself into the HPS program at Cambridge, I started to realize that only by practicing medicine, I could pursue a serious biological philosophy. I cut my first dead body and it felt alright. These were cadavers or donor corpses. I hardly ever felt like vomiting. The book by Shep Nuland on ‘How we die’ was very popular. It addressed the fact of existence. Although I read about the particularities of death, being a surgeon allowed me to understand them better. I was asked to deliver a child. I was educated on how to read the fetal heart rates etc. The twins were in distress and their only hope was a C-section. However, they didn’t survive as they were premature. On my next case, the baby was successfully delivered and I was very relieved indeed. Next on my rotation was surgical oncology. Many of the medical students chose to specialize in things like radiology or dermatology, which were deemed easier. Eventually, I chose neurosurgery as my specialty. Part of a doctor’s job is about to be emotionally attached to the patient and to calm them down. Brain surgery has a huge impact on the patient’s life. Would you trade your ability to talk for a few extra months of mute life? What makes life meaningful enough to go on living? Neurosurgeons have a huge responsibility. During the first year of residency, the workload was tremendous. The papers I file are narratives of risks and triumph. I finally lost my first patient. I saw a few people die in the course of my work. Sometimes, death has a suffocating weight on me too. In the second year of training, I was the first to arrive in an emergency. I was doing a lot of overtime work, which was very tiring indeed. It was so stressful that some left the profession. Some cases were beyond hope, where even surgery would not do much good. I did not think I was a doctor who missed the larger human significance. My dad was an inspiration to me and he even when to buy meals for his patients when they requested for them. I once persuaded a girl’s family that surgery was the best option for her. Announcing the bad news to a patient is very difficult indeed. Brain surgery for cases for cancer that metastases from other parts of body, can help to prolong life. In medical statistics, there is the Kaplan-Meier curve. This measures the number of patients surviving over time for any particular disease. It is a metric where doctors understand the ferocity of a disease. Instead of saying ‘You have a 95% chance of being dead in two years’, doctors can say ‘Most patients live many months to a couple of years.’. It is useful to hold a patient’s hand when announcing bad news. Sometimes, there can be an emotional cost as well. However, it can have its rewards too. For a neurosurgeon, it is also important to keep up to date on the latest technologies available in the market too. I loved talking to other scientists. Pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate. A patient can only be under anesthesia for that long. It is like finding the middle ground between the hare and the tortoise. Time flies in the OR. Technical excellence, was a moral requirement for me. For brain surgery, it is extremely important to be precise, up to the exact millimeter. The worst part of the brain damage is the cortex, the Wenicke and Broca area. These control one’s language abilities. I was excellent at my job and rewards and awards were coming naturally. My scientist friend committed suicide one day after he had a difficult complication. This made me contemplate the meaning of life even more.

The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, that you will lose, that your hands or judgment will slip, and yet still struggle to win for your patients. You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving. – Paul Kalanithi

Books become my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world. – Paul Kalanithi

Indeed, this is how 99% of people select their jobs: pay, work environment, hours. But that’s the point. Putting lifestyle first is how you find a job – not a calling. – Paul Kalanithi

Rushing a patient to the OR to save only enough brain that his heart beats but he can never speak, he eats through a tube, and he is condemned to an existence he would never want…I came to see this as a more egregious failure than the patient dying. – Paul Kalanithi

Amid the tragedies and failures, I feared I was losing sight of the singular importance of human relationships, not between patients and their families but between doctor and patient. Technical excellence was not enough. As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives – everyone dies eventually – but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness. – Paul Kalanithi

The call to protect life – and not merely life but another’s identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul – was obvious in its sacredness. – Paul Kalanithi

A resident’s surgical skill is judged by his technique and his speed. You can’t be sloppy, and you can’t be slow. – Paul Kalanithi

Neurosurgery requires a commitment to one’s own excellence and a commitment to another’s identity. The decision to operate at all involves an appraisal of one’s own abilities, as well as a deep sense of who the patient is and what she holds dear. – Paul Kalanithi

Cease Not till Death

The CT images were not good. My identity no longer mattered. It was life shattering and it hurt me. My potential would never be fulfilled. I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Emma Hayward was my oncologist. Emma was one of the best lung cancer specialist out there. She was also compassionate in nature. I felt weaker as the cancer spread. I couldn’t know my spot on the Kaplan-Meier curve. One option for me was chemotherapy and the other was therapy targeting at molecular defects. I had a PI3K mutation. Emma suggest carboplatin as chemotherapy for me. She refused to discuss the Kaplan-Meier curves. Lucy and I went to the sperm bank to preserve gametes. There is no point in depending or reading too much into statistics. I felt a drop of hope. After a drug, my appetite returned and I was happier. I had to figure out what is the most important for me. Cancer had helped to save my marriage with Lucy. I was also in physical therapy now. I was lifting my legs, but it was so exhausting and humiliating. I kept pushing myself. Finally, my condition improved. I could ride a bike for 6 miles and that was a massive achievement. Emma was a friend to me as well. I wanted a child, but the decision would ultimately lie with Lucy, because she would take care of the child. Life wasn’t about avoiding suffering. Life was about striving. We all need to carry on living. Only the best embryos would have a chance of survival. The tumor was reduced after a CT scan. It was good news. Life was looking up now. I started reading more about mortality. I pushed myself to return to the OR. Some patients could live for at least 10 years on the drug. I felt it was a moral responsibility to continue being a surgeon. Suddenly, halfway through the surgery, I felt faint and couldn’t continue. My junior resident took over. It was disappointing. Over time, my skills started to improve and I was getting better. However, it felt joyless as sometimes I would still be in pain. I wanted to be a doctor-scientist, but there were no vacancies. I overcame my pain and continued to see patients. I wanted to run a cancer lab as it would less demanding. I had to figure out what was the most important to me. God and meaning were linked, but it was also possible to believe in one and not the other. The problem is that science cannot reach some permanent truth. Hence, it might be incompatible with human life, which is more unpredictable. Science is cold, unlike the warmth of humans. I returned to Christianity as I found it to be compelling. Humans do not like blind determinism. A new tumour emerged in my latest CT scan. I was neither angry nor scared. I felt really tired after a grueling surgery. My last surgery was a big success and I could end on a high. Chemotherapy was the only way as localized treatment was out of the question. It would start on Monday. I felt very tired and the food was tasteless. I wanted to go for graduation but I started puking and it was horrible. I had to be placed on IV drip. My condition worsened. My kidneys were starting to fail now. I was placed in ICU now. Many specialists were now attending to me. Lucy was now 38 weeks pregnant. The problem was that the specialists could not come to a common consensus. No 1 party was willing to take responsibility. Some of them suggested ill-advised tests. I struggled to listen to them. Emma was now the captain of the ship. I was discharged from the hospital finally. I was very tired again, after the chemotherapy doses. Emma finally revealed that I could live for 5 more years. Lucy was in labour. My baby was finally born and it was a complete joy. Time began to feel static. The days of the week no longer to mean anything to me as I wasn’t working.

If I were a writer of books, I would compile a register, with a comment, of the various deaths of men: he would should teach men to die would at the same time teach them to live. – Michel de Montaigne (That to study philosophy is to learn to die)

The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live. – Paul Kalanithi

Only 0.0012% of 36 year olds get lung cancer. Yes, all cancer patients are unlucky, but there’s cancer and then there’s CANCER, and you have to be really unlucky to have the latter. – Paul Kalanithi

It’s easier when the patient is 94, in the last stages of dementia, with a severe brain bleed. But for someone like me – a 36 year old given a diagnosis of terminal cancer – there aren’t really words. – Paul Kalanithi

Many people, once diagnosed with cancer, quit work entirely. Others focus on it heavily. Either way is okay. – Emma Hayward, an oncologist

If the weight of mortality does not grow lighter, does it at least get more familiar? – Paul Kalanithi

If human relationality formed the bedrock of meaning, it seemed to us that rearing children added another dimension to that meaning. – Paul Kalanithi

I would push myself to return to the Operating Room. Why? Because I could. Because that’s who I was. Because I would have to learn to live in a different way, seeing death as an imposing itinerant visitor but knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living. – Paul Kalanithi

The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. – Paul Kalanithi

The way forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me 3 months, I’d spend time with family. Tell me 1 year, I’d write a book. Give me 10 years, I’d get back to treating diseases. – Paul Kalanithi

Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world. – Paul Kalanithi

But at my back in a cold blast I hear the rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear. – T.S. Eilot

Part of the cruelty of cancer, though, is not only that it limits your time; it also limits your energy, vastly reducing the amount you can squeeze into a day. It is a tired hare who now races. – Paul Kalanithi

Epilogue by Lucy Kalanithi

Paul died on March 9, 2015. Chemotherapy stopped working a few months before his death. We still had our family dinners etc. Paul was focused on completing his book. At his late stages, he lost his appetite completely. At times, he would suffer from a really serious fever. Paul chose the do not resuscitate status at the very end. We chose comfort care at home as he didn’t want to die in hospital. His carbon dioxide levels were too high, indicating lung failure. Paul wanted to hold Cady, his daughter. Paul was really to remove the breathing support and die. His wish was for us to publish his manuscript. I hope that he would be resting in peace now. Our family continued to sing to him and look at his facial expressions. Soon, his breaths became more faltering and irregular. During his last years, Paul wrote furiously and wanted to complete the book. He was very determined to write. He was brave throughout his most difficult days. He did not avert his eyes from death and was strong. Our love stood strong and firm throughout his difficult days. Paul suggested that I remarry after my marriage. I was definitely very blessed to have known a man like him. He was an unwavering source of support to our daughter. Throughout his illness, he faced it with grace and authenticity and acceptance. He was fully alive and his life was full of meaning even in his darkest days. This book is his culmination of his life and love for literature. Paul had made great contributions in the area of neuroscience. Paul managed to face death with integrity, and I was as his wife, his witness.

Conversely, we knew that one trick to managing a terminal illness is to be deeply in love – to be vulnerable, kind, generous, grateful. – Lucy Kalanithi

Bereavement (of a partner) is not the truncation of married love, but one of its regular phases – like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too. – C.S. Lewis

91Qg2BVZ9yL

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The narrator ‘I’ has cancer and spends a lot of time at home. I have a limited time to live. Mum suggested that I attend a weekly support group to treat depression. The group met every Wednesday in the basement of a church. Patrick was the leader who liked to talk about Christ. I’m Hazel, aged 16, and I have both thyroid and lung cancer. Isaac was a skinny guy who had eye cancer. I could communicate with Isaac, through sighing most of the time. I made friends with Augustus Waters. Suddenly, I wanted out from the support group. However, mum was resistant and wanted me to continue. I needed the help of an oxygen tank to live. Suddenly, a guy was looking at me. He was a hot and good-looking dude. Isaac was about to go for a surgery that would make him blind. Augustus was 17 and had osteosarcoma and was Isaac’s friend. He feared oblivion. I didn’t have proper friends apart from my parents. I encouraged Augustus to ignore his fear of oblivion and comforted him that Earth will die when the Sun dies out anyway. Peter Van Houten, author of ‘An Imperial Affliction’ was a good ‘friend’. Patrick often prayed for the group. Augustus started speaking to me now after the session. He believed that they were all in the heart of Jesus. Now, he started praising me for my beauty. I was started to get attracted to him and his mannerism. Augustus invited me to his place to watch V for Vandetta. Isaac had a girlfriend, named Monica. Augustus started smoking without lighting up the cigarette.

Augustus didn’t drive well at all. Your chances of survival largely depend on whether your parents still put you in school despite the illness. I wasn’t schooling for 3 years already while he still attended school at North Central. I had stage 4 cancer and my lungs were all infected. However, I was given a drug called Plalanxifor and I started to get better. In the past 18 months, the tumors shrank but I still had to rely on drizzled oxygen and daily Phalanxifor. His parents started preparing dinner for me. Augustus liked reading motivational quotes and encouragements. I do not eat meat. I explored the basement in his house and found a lot of basketball memorabilia. Augustus used to be at basketball before his legs got amputated. Deep inside me, I liked Augustus. I wasn’t very positive or enthusiastic about life, unlike him. My favorite book was an Imperial Affliction. Augustus wanted to read it as well. In exchange, I would read The Price of Dawn. Without Pain, How Could We Know Joy? Now, I felt like kissing him. He wanted to see me tomorrow for a second date.

Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease. I know so many people like that. It’s disheartening. Like, cancer is in the growth business, right? The taking-people-over business. But surely you haven’t let it succeed prematurely. – Augustus to me

My mum could tell I liked Augustus. It was my 33 half birthday and it called for a huge celebration. I was planning to meet Kaitlyn for a movie. Now, I also bought sequels for the Price of Dawn. My mum was always reading medical stuff and handling paperwork. I went shopping with Kaitlyn after a brief conversation. Kaitlyn was a good friend, but somehow after I missed school, we kind of drifted. I started reading Midnight Dawns before mum would pick me up. I liked the main character who always lived his life like an adventure. For those who knew my pre-existing condition, talking to them would never feel like normal. I liked being alone and indulge in my own fictional world.

I re-read AIA again. The book is about Anna and her one-eyed mom. Anna has a rare blood cancer and started a charity ‘The Anna Foundation for People with Cancer Who Want to Cure Cholera’. Her mom falls in love with the Dutch Tulip Man. The Tulip Man claims to have cures for cancer and can help Anna. However, Anna doesn’t trust him very much. The author left the story hanging in mid-air without an ending. I called him to share about my readings and vice versa. Now, I was planning to watch a movie with my mum. Augustus was surprised by the lack of ending of AIA. Isaac was sobbing tremendously. Isaac was in a midst of a psychotic episode. The both of them were playing the Price of Dawn and Isaac was acting like a lunatic. It could have been relationship trouble between him and Monica. You will not die in vain. Monica couldn’t handle that Isaac would lose his eyesight. Isaac was deeply upset with this. Isaac started slamming the pillow and chair in the room. I still haven’t heard from the author of AIA on what the ending would turn out to be. Isaac slammed the trophies with Augustus’ permission.

All salvation is temporary. I bought them a minute. Maybe that’s the minute that buys them an hour, which is the hour that buys them a year. No one’s gonna buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that’s not nothing. – Augustus

Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don’t you believe in true love? – Isaac

That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt. – Augustus

I met Kaitlyn and her boyfriend for coffee. I also attended classes at MCC 3 mornings in a week. Worry is a side effect of the dying and I started to worry. Augustus thanked me for the book and analyzed it deeply. Maybe the book was meant to end halfway and abruptly. The author was a recluse. He started writing to the author and received a reply from his assistant. Is there a point to living? Is there meaning in suffering? The author replied that he could not be continuing on this book. I started writing to the author too. Caroline Mathers was Augustus’ ex-girl friend. However, Caroline passed away. Okay will be our always. Isaac was free from cancer after the surgery. However, he was blind. Isaac wanted to leave the hospital. He still was thinking about Monica. Isaac’s mum was in the room by his side now. I bought Isaac some flowers. The author finally replied me. However, he refused to answer my questions on the book’s ending but welcomed me to visit him at his place. I immediately had the urge to head to Amsterdam to visit the author. However, I had to find a way to raise the funds since my parents were broke. I already used my wish from the Genie foundation to head to Disney. Augustus called me when I was at home. He brought a bouquet of bright orange tulips to me and suggested heading for a picnic. My dad and Augustus related well on topics like basketball. I was still worrying about the upcoming PET scan. He brought me to a park and then a museum. Everything Augustus brought was orange and it meant to represent Holland. Augustus reprimanded me on my short term thinking for my wish. He wanted me to preserve the integrity of the Wish as an idea instead. He hadn’t used his wish yet. He wanted to visit Amsterdam as well. The genies were ready to grant them their wishes.

But I believe in true love, you know? I don’t believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does. – Isaac

My mum was surprised about the Amsterdam trip. The doctor advised my mum to follow us on the trip as well. I told Kaitlyn about my encounter with Augustus. Kaitlyn had just broken up with Derek, her boyfriend. Caroline Mathers died from brain cancer. I realized how similar I was to Caroline. Pain is a blunt and nonspecific diagnostic instrument. I didn’t want to hurt mum anymore. I started reading Caroline Mather’s little notes. Augustus touched me.

I felt a sensation of sharp pain inside of my brain now. I screamed in pain. I was now admitted into the ICU. Alison was my nurse. Now, the hospital again drained the fluid from my lung. There was no tumor growth spotted. Augustus was waiting at the hospital for me. I eventually returned home after 6 days. Sleep fights cancer. I finally met Augustus since my episode in the hospital. The Amsterdam trip had to be postponed because of my illness. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.’ I desperately wanted to travel despite the new setback.

I missed you, too. I just don’t want you to see…all this. I just want, like…it doesn’t matter. You don’t always get what you want. – Hazel

Dr Maria admitted that the drug has side effects but she will continue administering it to me. It was a Cancer Team Meeting. The problem was that taking the drug caused fluid accumulation. I hated the cancer team meetings as it was depressing. The fluid draining became more frequent. My parents banned my travel until I was better. Augustus has the ability to make me laugh and delight me. I looked at the swing set my dad gave me when I was young. Augustus visited me to view the swing set. We placed an ad for the sale of the swing set. ‘Desperately lonely swing set needs loving home’. ‘No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.’ I sold it to a guy named Daniel Alvarez. The author was expecting me in a week’s time. My parents eventually allowed me to travel.

I headed to the Support Group. Michael had passed away. Isaac and his mum showed us for the support group as well. ‘Living our best life today’. I visited Isaac’s house. We started playing a game where Isaac gave the instructions and I directed him. I didn’t want to get together with Augustus because I will hurt him eventually.

Mum and I shared a suitcase. We were now busily packing before our departure. Dad cried when he was sending us off. Augustus came to the door when we picked him up. They were on their way to Amsterdam. Augustus went to get a burger and didn’t return. Soon, he came back. Augustus has the habit of placing cigarettes in his mouth without smoking it. I kissed Augustus on his cheek. We ended up watching 300 together. He was now re-reading AIA. Augustus loved me and he confessed.

It’s a metaphor. He puts the killing thing in his mouth but doesn’t give it the power to kill him. – Hazel

I happen to know the answer to that question. There are seven billion living people, and about ninety-eight billion dead people…There are about fourteen dead people for every living person. – Augustus

I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you. – Augustus

We reached the Netherlands. Amsterdam was a city of both sin and freedom. Augustus wore a black suit and I wore a beautiful sundress. Amsterdam looked nothing like the US. Now, we took the tram and travelled to Oranjee, a restaurant. There were 2 bottles of champagne waiting for us. We were over-looking the river. The champagne tasted great in my mouth. The asparagus was awesome. The food was simply too good. It was like a perfect date night. It was actually Augustus’ death suit. Cremeux was served for dessert. The author paid for their wonderful meal together. I thought about the possible endings to AIA again. Now, we were watching the canal from the park. Caroline liked to play alone in the playground in the past. She was always moody but he liked it. After chemo, Augustus started to marvel at the world and the excitement it brings.

Yes, I believe in an afterlife. Yes, absolutely. Not like a heaven where you ride unicorns, play harps, and live in a mansion made of clouds. But yes. I believe in Something with a capital S…Always have…I don’t believe we return to haunt or comfort the living or anything, but I think something becomes of us. – Augustus

…but I believe humans have souls, and I believe in the conservation of souls. The oblivion fear is something else, fear that I won’t be able to give anything in exchange for my life. If you don’t live a life in service of a greater good, you’ve gotta at least die a death in service of a greater good, you know? And I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything. – Augustus

Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you. – Augustus to Hazel

I started to get nervous. Today was the day when we would meet the author. My mum wasn’t joining us and was heading to Rijkmuseum and Vondelpark. Peter wanted them out at once as he hated Americans. It was his assistant who promised that Peter would meet them. Peter was very mean towards them and commented that Augustus had developmental delay. He never read many of my letters. Peter was a douche. Peter had a drinking problem. It was his assistant who used his money to treat me and Augustus. There are only two emotions, love and fear. Zeno was famous for his tortoise paradox. I was satisfied with his answers and I wanted to know the truth. The hamster gets adopted by Christine. The Dutch Tulip Man wasn’t a con man but was God. I kept insisting I wanted closure for the characters. I smashed the scotch from his hand and it smashed across the ground. Augustus quickly pulled me out from the room. I started crying and Augustus promised me he will write an epilogue. Now, his assistant wanted us to visit the Anne Frank’s House. She drove us to the house. Peter has become a monster and was an embarrassment to his family. Apparently, the world is not a wish-granting factory. Now, we watched a video of how the Nazis invaded Frank’s house. It took me a great effort, but I finally reached the top of the house. 103,000 Dutch people died in the Holocaust. I prayed for the war survivors. Anne almost made it, but she didn’t. I kissed Augustus in the house. Otto Frank was surprised by the depth of Anne Frank’s thought. Most parents don’t really know their children. Now, we were back at the hotel. We kissed again in the elevator. We were now in Augustus’ room. I removed his shirt. I allowed my arm to feel his stump, the thick scarred skin. Augustus was too tired and he fell asleep.

You are a side effect of an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation. – Peter van Houten

It was our last day in Amsterdam. Now, we tried the Dutch coffee. Amsterdam was a beautiful city which supported cycling. Augustus wanted to head back to the hotel. Augustus felt that I was more than human. We were in my room now. His PET scan results were bad and he suffered a relapse. He was sorry he didn’t inform me earlier. I hated the injustice of this all. ‘The world is not a wish-granting factory.’ Augustus. Now, Augustus was condemned to not leading a life of meaning.

I lit up like a Christmas tree, Hazel Grace. The lining of my chest, my left hip, my liver, everywhere. – Augustus

I don’t think you’re dying. I think you’ve just got a touch of cancer. And it is my privilege and my responsibility to ride all the way up with you. – Hazel

We were on the flight home now. We had champagne into our glasses. Augustus’ chest started to hurt. My dad knew about the cancer relapse in Gus. My dad read AIA in his free time and was disappointed in the lack of an ending. Even the Universe wanted to be noticed. The next day, I visited Augustus at his house. He was receiving new treatment to try to find a cure. Monica completely dumped Isaac and failed to contact him again. I was the healthiest as compared to Augustus and Isaac. I bought a dozen eggs under his instruction. We drove to Monica’s house. They started throwing eggs at her car. Monica’s mum realized it and hid in her home.

I visited Augustus in hospital after a chest infection. His heart was working too hard and he had to be confined to a wheelchair now. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. Two weeks later, we met at the park to drink champagne again.

Augustus had late-stage cancer now. He puked out his breakfast. He recited me what he thought of the ending of AIA. Nostalgia is a side effect of the dying. He had to be tube-fed. We kissed again in his bed. Now, we played Counterinsurgence 2: The Price of Dawn.

The next day, I visited his house again. He pissed on the bed. Now, he was getting increasingly tired. He always thought he was special. I always felt he was in his own way.

I don’t care if the New York Times writes an obituary for me. I just want you to write one. You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you. – Hazel

I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. Now this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life. I’m sorry if it sucks… – Hazel

Augustus called me at 2:35am. He was stuck at the gas station and wanted me over immediately. He didn’t want me to call 911. His G-tube was malfunctioning. Now, he was covered in his own vomit. Augustus visited the gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes. He was humiliating. Now, he was pitiful and miserable and desperate. Cancer just wants to be alive.

A few days later, he was moved back home. However, he was under increased dosages of medication. He eventually woke up and wanted to go outside. It was a cloudy day.

This was the Last Good Day convention. I had to prepare a eulogy before heading down. I chided my parents as they tried to prevent me from heading to the convention. I drove to the church. Augustus was now ghoulishly thin.

Augustus Waters was a self-aggrandizing bastard. But we forgive him. We forgive him not because he had a heart as figuratively good as his literal one sucked, or because he knew more about how to hold a cigarette than any nonsmoker in history, or because he got eighteen years when he got eighteen years when he should have gotten more. Augustus talked so much he’d interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production. And he was vain: I do not believe I have ever met a more physically attractive person who was more acutely aware of his own physical attractiveness. But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him. And then, having made my rhetorical point, I will put my robot eyes on, because I mean, with robot eyes you can probably see through girls’ shirts and stuff. Augustus, my friend, Godspeed. – Isaac

I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s 0.1 and 0.12 and 0.112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful. – Hazel

8 days after the pre-funeral, he passed away. Still, I was shattered. It was unbearable. His FB wall page were filled with condolences. I started reading them. I was angry as many of them did not know Augustus well and did not make an effort to keep in touch. You get all these friends just when you don’t need friends anymore. My parents held on to me for hours on end.

It was the funeral procession now. I walked up to his body. His eyes were closed. I placed a pack of cigarettes into the coffin. Peter was there and he graced the funeral. Without pain, we couldn’t know joy. Funerals, I had decided, are for the living. Someone started playing his favorite song. Initially, I didn’t want to continue attending the session because it felt like an ordinary funeral. However, my parents wanted me to show respects. Peter hitched a ride from our car. Peter van Houten continued drinking his whiskey. I thought the world only consists of two types of people: Peter van Houtens and my parents. I felt that I had already seen all pure and good in the world.

Omnis cellula e cellula: All cells come from cells. Every cell is born of a previous cell, which was born of a previous cell. Life comes from life. Life begets life begets life begets life begets life. – Peter van Houten

I visited Isaac’s house to play games with him. Isaac now talks to a computer with voice. I still couldn’t get over the death. Isaac mentioned something about the sequel to the book. I was hoping Augustus wrote it. I wanted to head over to his house. I was shocked when Peter was in my car. Peter wanted to apologize. Peter mentioned that I reminded him of Anna. ‘Pain is like fabric: The stronger it is, the more it is worth.’ Peter also lost a family member. He had a daughter who died from leukemia, like Anna. The book was all about her. He left. Augustus’ parents allowed me to search his computer. There was no trace of any sequel. I decided to leave after that.

But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us – not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals. – John Green

Gus’ dad found a black notebook near the hospital bed. Unfortunately it was empty with the first few pages torn off. I headed to the support group next day. I started searching the place for the missing pages but couldn’t find anything. Isaac started chatting about love. I headed home and refused to eat dinner despite my mum trying to persuade me to. My mum was taking social work and was taking exams. She was keen on helping others in her line of work. My mum would be the new and better Patrick. My parents vowed to stay together no matter what. My dad wouldn’t be Peter van Houten.

Kaitlyn was on the phone. She suggested that Augustus might have mailed the missing pages to van Houten instead. I contacted his assistant for help. It was Bastille Day today. We headed to the park for a picnic. Later that day, I visited the cemetery to see Gus again. Peter’s assistant replied via email and there were 4 emails. Gus was obviously sick when he wrote the 4 letters. He wrote a eulogy for her. A lot of people want to be remembered at their death.

It occurred to me that voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again. – Hazel

The marks human leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion. – Augustus

Hazel is different: She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the Earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm. – Augustus

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. – Augustus

the_fault_in_our_stars_by_grodansnagel-d6rujir