Tuesday, August 23, 2011

wisdom vs. knowledge

Sparkfest continues with "Talk Before Sleep" by Elizabeth Berg.

It turns out that Elizabeth Berg and I have a few things in common. She was a nurse in her real life. I was a doctor in mine. So we both know quite a bit about breast cancer, which is what this story is about.
You might be tempted to roll your eyes and wag your head, thinking you've heard enough about breast cancer already. Ho-hum.

But, do you really know all there is to know about hot fudge? Can you extol the virtues of sheets that have line-dried outdoors in the wind? Would you be able to sit at her bedside while your BFF confronted her own mortality? No? Then you should study...not just read...but study this book...

...because you may need to know these things someday.

What Elizabeth Berg did in this book was to capture the feel and look and taste of friendship among women who stick by a friend who is dying.

She uncovered humor there. She unmasked grief. She gave them courage. She helped them surrender graciously to the inevitable...all without quoting a statistic, without reviewing an X-ray or a biopsy report, without explaining treatment options, or obtaining a second opinion.

It was this that inspired me to write as a physician: the desire to translate what I know about medicine and what I know about life into a story that shares not only knowledge, but wisdom.

Patients, their families and friends, indeed doctors themselves, can learn alot from a novel like this. It made me "ooh" and "ahh" and ache as I read it. It didn't feel like fiction at all!

L.D. meets me at Ruth's door. "Did you bring it?" she asks.
"Hot fudge."
I hold up the gigantic container.
"Wow. I didn't know you buy that much."
"You can now."
More about this tomorrow...
Be still,


  1. This is a lovely post :) It's never too late to chase your dreams and if you come to writing latter in life you can draw on all the wisdom you've acquired.

  2. Books that can make us laugh about our greatest sadnesses are a true gift. Thank heavens there are people who can do it well!

  3. I'm enjoying your posts. I'm so glad that book sparked you and that you are writing today.

    The Write Soil

  4. Thanks, Angie--Sometimes I just wish the clock weren't ticking so fast :).

    Melissa--Sweet sadness is a true gift.

    Thanks, Dawn--I was fortunate to have been able to retire early enough to give it a try.

  5. Wow, I am intrigued by this book! I got a little teary-eyed while reading your description of it. Best wishes to you, Jan!

  6. Hi, theartistrycollective. This book may just make you cry...and it will surely make you smile.

  7. Oh my gosh. Beautiful rhetorical questions on the hot fudge and sheets. This is really wetting my appetite for this book!