Summary: Chapter 8
A meeting convenes of numerous medical specialists familiar with Hazel’s case. When one doctor mentions that Hazel is not a viable candidate for lung transplant her father breaks down crying. It reminds Hazel of the time she was near death and overheard her sobbing mother say she wouldn't be a “mom anymore.” As the meeting progresses the general consensus is to stick with the Phalanxifor regiment while monitoring the build up of lung fluid more vigorously. Finally the cancer team deems it unwise for Hazel to risk international travel.
Hazel calls Augustus to inform him she cannot travel to Amsterdam. He cracks a few charming jokes, putting Hazel more at ease. They discuss the brilliance of Van Houten’s calling time a “slut,” and Hazel likes being in the “third space” she's in when she and Augustus talk on the phone. The following day Hazel is feeling depressed. She tells Augustus she's upset because she has to miss out on Amsterdam, and because the sky is sad and because there's an old swing set in her yard that her father built for her. Augustus comes over, and they sit in the backyard. He says it's the sad-looking swing set causing most of Hazel's crying. Together they post an ad online for the “Desperately Lonely Swing Set,” and soon someone emails to get it.
While Augustus reads An Imperial Affliction aloud to Hazel she realizes she's fallen in love with him. He gives her a friendly peck on the cheek. The next morning Hazel is shocked by an email from Lidewij. The email states all the preparations for Hazel’s trip to Amsterdam have been made. Confused, Hazel looks to her mother, who ecstatically reveals that Dr. Maria has reconsidered, and now insists upon Hazel living her life and traveling to Amsterdam. Hazel texts Augustus to let him know the trip is back on.
Summary: Chapter 9
Prior to departing for Amsterdam, Hazel attends a Support Group meeting. The meeting is rather contentious. Hazel becomes frustrated by the abundance of clichés about the strength of cancer victims. When a girl named Lida says she admires Hazel's strength, Hazel snidely says she would trade her strength for Lida's remission. She immediately regrets the comment. After the meeting Isaac invites Hazel over to play a blind-friendly version of The Price of Dawn. While playing, the two discuss Augustus's somewhat annoying heroic and suicidal video game habits. They laughingly agree that he is “too enamored with metaphor.” Isaac asks why Hazel hasn't hooked up with Augustus. He thinks she's afraid of Augustus pulling a Monica on her. Hazel thinks to herself that the opposite is true: she's afraid of dying and leaving Augustus.
Hazel's concern for her parents and the pain she causes them is a central theme of Chapter 8. In what's clearly a painful memory for Hazel, she recalls the instance where she was near dying and overheard her crying mother say she would no longer “be a mom” after Hazel's death. In fact, she feels so much guilt for the pain she's caused her parents because of her cancer that she calls herself the “alpha and omega” of her parents' suffering, meaning that, at least in her mind, all her parents' suffering stems from her. Her feelings about her cancer and the havoc its caused also seem to be why she finds the old swing set in her backyard so sad. When she tells Augustus about it, she points out specifically that her father made it for her, suggesting whatever meaning it has for her ties in with him. And although she says she doesn't have any special memory of a “healthy father pushing a healthy child” in it, her choice of words indicates that it does raise a feeling of nostalgia for the days before her illness. Evidently it causes Hazel an emotional ache to see the swing and think back to the time before her cancer, when she was a normal child and her parents didn't have to contend with all the painful consequences of having a terminally ill daughter.
Despite her fear that she'll hurt Augustus when she dies, Hazel finally lets herself fall completely in love with him. Until now, Hazel has been reluctant to let down her defenses and allow herself to feel the strong emotions she obviously has for him. In this section her defenses give way, and Hazel admits that she's fallen in love with Augustus, comparing it to sleep, which starts slowly and then comes all at once. Her change of heart, though it was probably inevitable, comes just after Augustus comforts her over her sadness about the swing set in her backyard. Hazel worries a great deal about the suffering she inflicts on others, and the incident occurs just after she's been reminded of the pain her cancer causes her parents. Augustus helps her temporarily forget about these worries, and as a result she seems to worry less about the pain she may one day cause him as well, focusing instead on letting herself enjoy the present. It's a big step for Hazel emotionally, and it allows her to feel even closer to Augustus. Her hesitation with him hasn't disappeared entirely, however. She protests a little when he kisses her cheek, and her old concern appears again when she plays the video game with Isaac. Isaac suggests she won't hook up with Augustus because she's worried he'll leave her, but in fact she's concerned about leaving him when she dies.