How Patrick Ness, A Monster and The Truth Helped Me Forgive MyselfMonday, February 13, 2017
The basic synopsis is, Conor O'Malley is visited repeatedly by a monster while his mother is dying. The monster tells him several stories, and then Conor is forced to tell his own, the only caveat, it must be the truth.
**Spoiler Alerts lie below, so do not read ahead, if you haven't read or seen the movie and don't want any more details**
Within two hours I had devoured the entire book, and my shirt, neck and face were covered in tears. So much tears that when my husband popped his head in the room to ask how the book was going, he had a surprised look on his face and said, "What the hell?" Yeah, that many tears.
Despite having read the book, watching the movie was no different.
I sobbed hard during the last 50% of it.
You see, it's not just a beautifully written book. It KNOWS grief. It understands the darkness of it. It understands the guilt, the shame, the anger, the desperation, and the total loss of control that is grief. It also knows how to explain it in a way most of us never can. The message, which is directed at children facing tragic loss, isn't just for kids. It's so completely perfectly presented, that it is helpful for adults who have faced deep losses themselves and are trying to navigate through them.
This story, A Monster Calls, actually helped me through a part of my grief process that had laid dormant, and one that I couldn't seem to figure out. And all because of the final truth Conor must tell the Monster.
He wanted her to die so it could be over already.
Even as I write that sentence, I get emotional. Not because she was dying, or because how could he think that about her?
It makes me emotional because I felt the same things about my mom.
I never wanted her to die, I wanted her to heal, but from day one, I knew she was terminal. I did the research. I went to Google despite her urges not to, and I read for hours. I dry heaved for half an hour in the bathroom afterward because I had read too much truth. The statistics were so bad. She wasn't guaranteed any health ever again. The treatment wrecked her, and she was never the same. She lived for a year, but it was miserable.
Within two months she was almost dead in a hospital bed because her body wouldn't accept food or water. She wore a feeding tube pack with the tube taped to her face for months. She went bald, turned the putrid color of cancer. Her face swelled up, and she didn't look like herself. She lost her ability to string together sentences, and mixed up names and words all day long. So much so, that she stopped talking much at all. She couldn't walk very well or at all, and she had to be with someone at all times.
She was so sick, and so low.
She was death in a living body, and I wanted it to be over.
I didn't visit her as much as I should have, or as much as I had time to, because whenever I saw her, my whole body screamed in shock. I had anxiety attacks that I kept to myself whenever I saw her. It hurt too much to watch her die like that, so I didn't watch, sometimes. More often than not, actually. We were so extremely bonded together, and I abandoned her in her cancer because the pain of it all was too much to bear.
I didn't want her to die at all, but I didn't want her to suffer anymore, and I didn't want to suffer anymore myself.
"You were merely wishing for the end of pain," the monster said. "Your own pain. An end to how it isolated you. It is the most human wish of all."