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423 pages, Paperback
First published April 6, 2004
“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.”
"An oncology ward is a battlefield, and there are definite hierarchies of command. The patients, they're the ones doing the tour of duty. The doctors breeze in and out like conquering heroes, but they need to read your child's chart to remember where they've left off from the previous visit. It is the nurses who are the seasoned sergeants -- the ones who are there when your baby is shaking with such a high fever she needs to be bathed in ice, the ones who can teach you how to flush a central venous catheter, or suggest which patient floor might still have Popsicles left to be stolen, or tell you which dry cleaners know how to remove the stains of blood and chemotherapies from clothing. The nurses know the name of your daughter's stuffed walrus and show her how to make tissue paper flowers to twine around her IV stand. The doctors may be mapping out the war games, but it is the nurses who make the conflict bearable."
"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?"
"I have a sister, so I know-that relationship, it's all about fairness: you want your sibling to have exactly what you have the same amount of toys, the same number of meatballs on your spaghetti, the same share of love. But being a mother is completely different. You want your child to have more than you ever did. You want to build a fire underneath her and watch her soar. It's bigger than words."
“You're not a bad person because you want to be yourself.”
“Seeing her sitting there unresponsive makes me realize that silence has a sound.”
“A jewel's just a rock put under enourmous heat and pressure. Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.”
"I learn from my own daughter that you don't have to be awake to cry."
"I ...understand how a parent might hit a child- it's because you can look into their eyes and see a reflection of yourself that you wish you hadn't."
"Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them."
“The answer is that there is no good answer. So as parents, as doctors, as judges, and as a society, we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night--because morals are more important than ethics, and love is more important than law."