On the last day of school, Miles finds a note from Takumi slipped under his door. In it, Takumi tells Miles that he has already left for Japan and apologizes for being mad at him all semester. He explains to Miles that he saw Alaska on the night that she died. She told Takumi that it was the anniversary of her mother’s death and that she had forgotten to put flowers on her mother’s grave. Takumi says that when she left, he thought she wasn’t going to do anything but look for flowers outside, so he let her go. He apologizes to Miles because he knows that he loved Alaska too.
Miles and the Colonel distanced themselves from Takumi because of the role they played in Alaska’s death, only to find that he played a role as well. Takumi could have saved Miles and the Colonel a great deal of questioning had he told them this information upfront. Then again, perhaps he would have told them if they hadn’t left him out. Either way, guilt drove a wedge between Takumi and Miles and the Colonel.
Miles runs to Takumi’s room to forgive him but he’s already gone. In that moment, Miles realizes that forgiveness is the way out, and that Alaska forgave them and he forgives everyone else. He finally accepts that he will never know her last words and thoughts. He realizes that he will love her forever, despite the fact that he doesn’t know her completely.
Miles does end up struck by a sort of enlightenment—like that he desired from the Buddhist koans—except his revelation is not about Alaska, as he had hoped, but about life. He chooses to forgive Takumi and Alaska and himself, and in forgiving, he finds peace.
Miles runs back home and sits down to write his religion paper. He writes that before he came to Culver Creek, he avoided the labyrinth by pretending it didn’t exist. He and the Colonel messed up with Alaska just like Alaska messed up with her mom, but while Alaska let that mistake ruin her life, Miles chooses to believe in the Great Perhaps.
Miles has always sought the Great Perhaps, but before coming to Culver Creek, he was naïve about how difficult or bad things could be. He has now learned that the future often holds suffering, but that this doesn’t keep the Great Perhaps from being worth seeking.
Miles writes that eventually he will forget Alaska, but he knows that she will forgive him for that. In turn he forgives Alaska for being selfish and forgetting about everyone she left behind. Alaska’s body will return to the earth and be recycled, but Miles believes that Alaska was more than her body. He writes that “[t]here is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere because it cannot be destroyed.”
Although Miles’ beliefs and actions sometimes correspond with Christian teachings, he doesn’t believe in any specific religion. Instead, he believes in an idea of radical hope: that even if things fall apart, they cannot be truly destroyed. He can seek his Great Perhaps because he believes that Alaska’s energy is still alive, and life is worth living no matter what.
Miles knows that matter cannot be truly destroyed, and he believes that Alaska’s energy works the same way. He has hope because he believes that people are indestructible, and consequently, anything is survivable. He wishes that Alaska had not self-destructed because she did not need to. He says that “[w]e think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations.” Miles ends his essay by quoting Thomas Edison’s last words, “It’s very beautiful over there.” He says that he’s not sure where Alaska is, but he hopes it’s beautiful.
Often, books dealing with teenage deaths serve as reminders that we are not invincible, but Green, through Miles’ essay, argues against this idea. He concludes that rather than being overly cautious, we should live life as fully as possible—because even if and when we die, our energy will continue to exist. Miles doesn’t believe in a specific afterlife, but he instinctively feels that there is something more than just physical existence. That belief gives him the hope and strength he needs to survive and move on.