A Walk to Remember: Chapter 12
It transpires that Jamie has leukemia and has been aware of it since the summer. She and Landon cry in the street together, and that Sunday, Hegbert announces the news in his sermon, so the whole town knows of Jamie’s plight. She has a rare form of the disease, and the doctors have done all they can for her. She has only a few months left to live. The next day Landon asks why she didn’t tell him, and she replies that she decided it would be better if she told no one.
Needless to say, Landon is in a state of confusion. He has never lost anyone close to him before. He is afraid of doing or saying something wrong, and this makes it hard for him to talk to Jamie. When on a Monday Jamie is not at school he realizes that he will never see her there again. He skips afternoon classes and goes to visit her. She says she feels fine but will not be going back to school because she wants to spend as much time as possible with her father. She admits that she is frightened.
Landon starts to pray for a miracle. He also starts reading the Bible, reading straight through from Genesis onwards. One night, when he reaches the Psalms, he is particularly struck by one Psalm that contains a section Jamie had underlined.
At the end of January he is at a low ebb, and he knows February is going to be even more difficult. He talks the situation over with his mother, but he knows there is no happy solution. The next day he visits Jamie and tries to talk to her as if nothing was wrong. But it doesn’t feel right to him.
Jamie starts to lose weight; Landon visits every day. He tells her that he has been reading the Bible, which pleases her. They start to read the Bible together and discussing what they read. At his house one night, she tells him that she loves him. It is the first time she has said this; it is what Landon has been praying for.
Hegbert now allows Landon into the house even when he is not there. Jamie does not often leave the house. As she and Landon continue to read the Bible together, people stop by the house bringing food or just to say hello. Eric and Margaret visit, and there is an emotional scene. Eric says Jamie has the biggest heart of anyone he has known. He apologizes for his past behavior toward her. He gives her something in an envelope. After he leaves, Jamie and Landon open the envelope and find that Eric has collected four hundred dollars for the orphanage.
In February, Jamie is in pain and is also dizzy from the medication she is taking. She continues to lose weight and has difficulty in walking. She and Landon continue to read the Bible together. On Valentine’s Day they read a passage about love that is one of Jamie’s favorite passages.
Three days later Landon takes her to an island and they stand on the pier at sunset, looking at the spectacular scene. They remain there as the stars turn black and the first stars appear in the sky.
In late February, Jamie’s condition deteriorates further. It seems as if she is going to have to go to the hospital, even though she wants to stay at home. But then Landon’s wealthy father, prompted by Landon’s mother, intervenes and pays for Jamie’s home care. She is now attended by two full-time nurses, with all the medical equipment and attention she needs.
As Jamie gets still weaker, she tells Landon that she has had a wonderful life, including a father who taught her about God and the experience of loving and being loved in return.
Landon has the feeling that there is something more he could be doing for Jamie but he cannot put his finger on what exactly it might be. Jamie becomes bedridden, and Landon asks her directly what he can do for her. But she cannot tell him. Then one day he reads a passage in the Bible about “testing the sincerity” of love, and he suddenly realizes what he has to do. He rushes to the church and enters Hegbert’s office and tells him what is on his mind. Hegbert is silent, but at least he does not say no. Then Landon rushes to Jamie’s house and asks her to marry him.
As Jamie’s illness takes its course, it becomes a trigger for important new developments in Landon’s life and that of his family. Under the pressure of the emotional situation, Landon develops a genuine interest in the Bible. He seems to be developing the kind of faith that Jamie has had all along. He thinks only of her welfare, so he begins to discover the real meaning of love. Jamie’s illness also provides opportunities for old wounds to be healed. Landon’s father overcomes the bad blood that exists between him and Hegbert by arranging to pay for Jamie’s home care. This action also effects a reconciliation between Landon and his father. The situation may be tragic, but it is not without its positive aspects.