So many come to the sickroom thinking of themselves as men of science fighting disease and not as healers with a little knowledge helping nature to get a sick man well.
Though we aren’t blasé about death, we are accustomed to it. We know it will happen. When a person is hospitalized, it means his or her condition could turn serious, fast. A simple case of pneumonia could result in a whole-body infection that spirals and becomes fatal. A patient receiving a new hip could develop a blood clot that clogs his lungs. A heart-failure patient could suffer an arrhythmia. But hospital deaths are rarely as terrible as John’s.January 2016
It is time for him to mark the spot that he will cut out. I turn around in the chair, and the starched edge of his white coat brushes my naked shoulder as he moves behind me. I can smell the magic marker and feel the cold circle he draws on my back. He asks if anybody is here with me, and I say no. I know what he’s thinking: that he won’t have to come out and talk to the relatives in the waiting room after the surgery is over.January 2016
The birth and development of a vocation needs space, space and silence, the free silence of space. Our relationship with our children should be a living exchange of thoughts and feelings, but it should also include deep areas of silence; it should be an intimate relationship but it must not violently intrude on their privacy; it should be a just balance between silence and words.November 2015
It wasn’t even lunch yet, and Helen had a plagiarism situation on her hands. Becky Fairchild: chipper with lots of teeth, field-hockey captain, hair ribbons in Hadley Academy colors every Friday, scones and effusive thank-you notes for teachers at Christmas, clothes from the kind of catalogs that Helen sometimes flipped through wistfully on the toilet.November 2015
Once again a student asks me why I became a writer and this time I say: Because of the staggered, staccato music of my dad’s old typewriter in the basement. Because when he really got going, you could listen to it like a song. Because after a while you could tell if he was writing a book review or a letter just from the shift and drift and thrum of the thing. Because it sounded cheerful and businesslike and efficient and workmanlike and true.July 2015
It’s not surprising that trauma is the number-one killer of people under forty, but it had never been so obvious to me before I worked at a hospital.June 2015