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Talk Before Sleep (Anglais) CD – Version coupée, Livre audio

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This morning, before I came to Ruth's house, I made yet another casserole for my husband and my daughter. Meggie likes casseroles while Joe only endures them, but they are all I can manage right now. I put the dish in the refrigerator, with a note taped on it telling how long to cook it, and at what temperature, and that they should have a salad, too.
Next I did a little laundry--washed Meggie's favorite skirt, then laid it on top of the dryer and pressed the pleats in with the flat of my hand. I love doing this because I love the smell of laundry soap and the memory it brings of lying outside on warm days, watching my mother peg huge white bedsheets onto the clothesline. Those sheets glowed with the light blue color white clothes radiate when they are extremely clean. My mother seemed to be fighting with them sometimes, muttering at them as best she could through the wooden clothespins she held in her mouth, insisting that they stay anchored in one place while they pulled and yanked to be free, their wet snapping sounds a protest. I always thought maybe we should let them go. Maybe they had a mission. Maybe the sheets were really people who had started all over again, come back on some low rung and now were ready to fly up to heaven for a promotion--say to a paramecium. I viewed all things on the earth as equal, in terms of the Grand Scheme. Vice presidents and river rocks had nothing up on each other. So the cotton fibers of a bedsheet could easily return as a simple form of water life, or, for that matter, as a movie star who drove white motorcycles through the glamorous hills of Hollywood.
I also like doing laundry for the feeling of connection it brings me, especially now, when I see my family too little, when most of my time is taken up with things they have no part of. With my hand on Meggie's skirt, I can see her small, keyhole-shaped knees, the sliding-down socks she wears, the nearly worn-out sneakers she won't let me replace. I see her schoolgirl blouses and the half-heart necklace she likes to wear every day lately, advertising the fact that she is someone's best friend. And then, saving the best for last, I see her face, her still slightly rounded cheeks, her stick-out ears, her gorgeous red hair and matching freckles. She has just learned to make her own ponytail, and she stands softly grunting at the mirror in the morning until the lumps are gone--or nearly so. I can't attend to these small things now--sometimes I sleep at Ruth's and am not there in the morning and Meggie goes to school with messy hair; and with questionable color combinations, no doubt. She's lucky she's only nine; it doesn't really matter yet. Her bangs need cutting, her toenails too, probably--Joe can't keep up with these everyday details and still work the number of hours he's required to. I know that eventually all will return to normal at my house, and then we will feel better--and worse, too, of course.
For now, I roll out piecrust, let myself be soothed by the sound of low-voiced interviews or oldies on the radio. I have learned so much lately about the salvation to be found in caretaking, whatever form that caring takes.
Today, while I was rushing around the kitchen making dinner at seven-thirty in the morning, Meggie asked, "Is Ruth your only best friend?"
"Yes," I said, surprised at the evenness of my tone.
"Oh." She sighed softly. "I'm sorry for you, Mommy."
"I know you are."
"Was she always your best friend?"
"Did you have one before her?"
"I guess so," I told her, then sent her off to school. And then I thought about Carol Conroy. The first time I made a promise with my whole heart, it was to Carol Conroy, and it required me to take care of her rabbit, Ecclesiastes. Carol, who liked very much the sound of words she found in the Bible, was leaving our small New England town to visit Disneyland for ten entire days. My jealousy was mitigated somewhat by the importance of the task she had assigned me. "You have to feed this rabbit and change his water every day," Carol told me solemnly. "And on every third day, you have to clean up his poops. It's not too bad unless he gets sick. But you have to do it even if he gets sick! Now, promise." I stood up straight and promised with my whole heart--I could feel it straining with earnestness--because I loved Carol Conroy in the way that ten-year-old girls do love each other, with a fierce, raggedy flame destined to go out. I vowed to do everything she said unless I died.
Ecclesiastes did get sick--maybe because of some licorice I fed him--and I ended up having to clean his cage several times a day for four days straight. The rabbit's illness only endeared him to me. I didn't resent him; I wanted to help him; and I felt gilded when he recovered. Years later, I would say it was Ecclesiastes that prompted me to become a nurse. And now, years after becoming a nurse--in fact, years after having left the profession to take care of my family, I have again made a promise with my whole heart, again out of love for my best friend. Only this time my friend's name is Ruth. And this time the flame is steady, in no danger of going out. I would say it is of the eternal variety.
So now it is ten-thirty in the morning, and Ruth is in the bathtub, and I am straightening out her bed. She has a white eyelet dust ruffle, white sheets with eyelet trim, a blue-and-white striped comforter, Laura Ashley. There are four fat goosedown pillows, each covered with beautiful embroidered pillowcases, white on white. There is a stack of magazines piled high on the floor and a collection of crystals on the bedside table: rose quartz, amethyst, and a clear white one with a delicate, fractured pattern running through it. They are not working. She is dying, though we don't know when. We are waiting. She is only forty-three and I am only forty-two and all this will not stop being surprising.
I hear her calling my name and I crack open the bathroom door. "Yes?"
"Could you come in here?" Her voice is a little shaky and I realize this is the first time I have heard her sound afraid.
I sit on the floor beside her, rest my arms along the edge of the tub to lean in close, though what I am thinking is that I ought to get in with her. She has used bubble bath and the sweet smell rises up warm and nearly palpable between us. Tahitian Ginger. The label on the bottle features happy natives who do not believe in Western medicine. The bubbles have mostly disappeared; I can see the outline of her body in the water. She is half swimming, turning slightly side to side, hips rising languidly up and down. Her breasts are gone.
"What's up?" I say.
She squeezes her bath sponge over her head. She is almost bald, but not quite. Dark strands of hair cling to the bottom of her head and her neck. Duck fluff, we call it. I told her to shave her head and she'd look great, like a movie star, like a rock singer. It's the latest rage, I told her. "Nah," she said. "What's left, I want to keep. It has sentimental value."
"I was wondering what happens when I die," she says now. "I was thinking, how are they sure? Are they really sure? I mean, what if I get buried alive?"
"They're sure," I tell her. "You sort of . . . shut down. Your heart stops, and your breathing. Certain reflexes disappear, you know, like the pupils in your eyes don't react." She watches me, holding absolutely still, looking like a colorized sculpture of herself. I sigh, then add, "And you get cold, you get real cold, okay? Your skin doesn't feel warm anymore. They're absolutely sure."
"Oh," she says. "Okay. Just checking." She is relieved; you can see it in the uncreasing of her forehead, in the loosening to normal of the area around her mouth. "Wash my back, will you?"
She sits up and rests her forehead on her raised knees. I bump the washcloth over newly revealed bones, the delicate scapulas, the orderly line of vertebrae. "I'm becoming exoskeletal," she says, her voice muffled. "I'm turning into a lobster. Maybe when we die we go back incrementally. You know, a little to the sea, then on to the heavens." She thinks a moment, then says, "I was just lying in here and I felt kind of tired and . . . weird, and then I thought, wait--is this it? I mean, how will I know?" She leans back, frowns. "Is that the same question I just asked? Am I making any sense? Do I keep asking the same goddamn question?"
I'd been making dinner. I had The Oprah Winfrey Show on the little kitchen TV. The phone rang and I wiped my hands on my apron and answered it and she said, "It's in my brain."
"No," I say, "it's not the same question. It's different. First you wanted to know how they'd know; now you want to know how you'll know. Different question entirely. You will know, though. You won't be the same person you are now when it happens. You'll be, I don't know . . . wiser."
"Okay." She stands up, asks for a towel, tells me she's done.
"I should think so," I say. "You've been in there for an hour."
"Have I? Jesus, I thought it was about five minutes."
"That's okay. I was having a good time waiting for you. I was reading your diary."
"Find anything good?"
"The sex stuff. That's good. But it's all bullshit."
"You wish."
I help her into a nightgown: white, white-lace trim, thin strands of ribbon hanging down the front.
She climbs in bed, pulls the covers up. She is tired, so pale. But her blue eyes are still beautiful and her face such a perfect shape you could walk into the room and see her and first just be jealous.
"I suppose it could be tonight, couldn't it?" she says. "God, it really could."
I was with her, sitting in the corner of the examining room, while she read questions off her list. She was pushing...

Revue de presse

"You'll want to give a copy to  every good woman friend you have." -- The Charlotte Observer

"Entertaining, finely crafted Elizabeth Berg tackles serious  issues with grace" -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Tender and irreverant by turns, it offers mature intelligent and  buoyant spirit, like a very good  friend." -- Houston Post

From the Paperback edition.

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Format: Format Kindle
Most of us read to be enlightened or moved. This book did both. On one level, it's a story about girlfriends, and how women need each other. On another, and this is the main theme I think, it's about treasuring what you have and treating yourself well in your own life. There's a scene in here about Ann preparing a fussy, precisely made breakfast for Ruth, who is sick. Ruth aggravates Ann by sending her back to the kitchen to improve the meal. Ann thinks, What a bitch! But complies. And then when the perfect meal is brought back to the bedroom, Ruth admits she's too sick to eat, and insists Ann eat it. Ann does, and you see that she needs to do this for herself every now and then: a perfect breakfast, with white linen and a rose alongside. We all should.

Here are a couple of excerpts that I found meaningful:

About women in general: "The truth is, we usually only show our unhappiness to another woman. I suppose this is one of our problems. And yet it is also one of our strengths."

One night, Ann and Ruth are looking up at the starts, discussing insignificance. Ann says, "I want more. I want someone to know I was here." Ruth says, "But you have to start with yourself. You have to let yourself know you're here."

As Ruth declines and moves thoughtfully toward death, she shows us how to live fully and appreciate every moment, not because she's dying and all of a sudden realized it, but because she always has. In this she gives us a model, and Elizabeth Berg, the author, gives us a gift.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5 226 commentaires
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Must read! 30 septembre 2016
Par Nom de plume - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is a book about friendship. I have passed it on to others because I like the author's look into women's relationships. As a cancer survivor
myself I recommend it to anyone who has a friend with a serious, possibly fatal disease. This, and The Pull of the Moon, also by Elizabeth Berg
are great favorites of mine. I hope you will read it and enjoy it as much as I did. Women can have such depth to their friendships and sometimes
its just a good idea to read something like this to remind you of the love you have for one another.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Food for thought for both the dying and her friends 11 décembre 2012
Par Karen K. Schloss - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
The first time I read _Talk Before Sleep_, it was just because I intended to read every Elizabeth Berg book, in publication order. I liked it, but it didn't really touch my heart. This time, upon re-reading, I had a friend dying in exactly the same way the woman in the book was dying: From Stage IV lung cancer, metastasized from breast cancer. It was interesting to me to read about how each of her friends coped, how they came together to help their friend die as well as possible, and how dying does not have to be an enormous tragedy. I took from it, this time, ideas that I could use to help my own friend. And I bought not only a copy for my Kindle, but a paper copy to send to my dying friend so that she could read and perhaps draw comfort in planning a good death for herself. Berg's writing is dismissed by many as mere "chick lit", but it is comforting soul food that will soothe both the worried friend and the cancer patient, as well. Top recommendation.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Witty characters 10 septembre 2012
Par Annette Mackey - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This book has an interesting storyline. It's about a group of women who rally around a friend who is dying of breast cancer. Some parts of the book were very well written. I felt Ruth's pain. Other times it seemed that she was an idiot who had extra-marital affairs under the assumption that she would never get caught. After she becomes ill, Ann, one of Ruth's devoted friends, spends all of her time caring for her, sometimes to the neglect of her family. Ann is "taken" with Ruth. She's in awe of her brazen approach to life. There were also a number of interesting supporting characters, which made for enjoyable banter that was unpredictable and fun to read. But the whole thing seemed a little shallow. I couldn't relate to Ruth's perspective on life. I also couldn't relate to the author's portrayal of death, mainly because my own experience with grief has been different. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy women's fiction. It's an easy, quick read. However, sensitive readers may want to pass.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Provocative, inspiring, and well written regarding friendship and compassion. 6 novembre 2016
Par John Rausch - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This book was such a great read I couldn't put it down. The deep and meaningful relationships portrayed are very inspiring. And the challenges present during serious illness are realistically explored. I will look for more books by this author!
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Story of Friendship and Tragedy 21 décembre 1998
Par Bucherwurm - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
As a man I envy the open and intimate friendships that women often have for other women. Elizabeth Berg portrays the strength and sorrow of such a relationship when one of a group of women friends is slowly dying of cancer. The group provides constant emotional support to their stricken member, and EB shows the unique pain that each is going through as death approaches.
The author does not burden us with a novel of unmitigated sadness, however. Ruth has reached the point of accepting death (a status not yet achieved by all of her friends), and she faces the end with remarkable humor. As the Charlotte Observer noted in its review, "One minute you're laughing, the next you're crying."
If, like me, you have reached the age where you no longer consider yourself immortal, you may like this well told tale of that final adventure that we all face.
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