Marrow: A Love Story

Lesser, Elizabeth

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Annotated by:
Burke, Katherine
  • Date of entry: Sep-25-2019
  • Last revised: Sep-25-2019


Elizabeth (Liz) Lesser receives a call from her sister Maggie, telling her that she has had a relapse of lymphoma. Maggie’s best chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant; of the three other Lesser sisters, Liz is Maggie’s perfect match. In an effort to bolster the stem cells’ chance to be successfully grown, harvested, and transplanted, Maggie and Liz embark on a process to do a “soul marrow transplant;” with the help of a therapist and through many difficult conversations, the sisters resolve sibling rivalries, explore their family history, and forgive each other for old assumptions and judgments. Through the journey they learn to live with vulnerability and authenticity, and as the poet Rumi writes, meet each other in the field “beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.”  

Eventually, Maggie’s body begins to succumb to the cancer, and the entire family prepares for her inevitable death. Maggie, an artist who works with dried and pressed botanicals, strives to complete a formidable exhibition entitled “Gone to Seed,” an exploration of life and mortality. Liz seeks forgiveness and reconciliation with their other two sisters. Finally, Maggie and her family wrestle with the decision to end standard treatment, begin palliative care, and consider physician aid in dying.


Throughout this memoir, Lesser (cofounder of the Omega Institute) seeks wisdom and guidance from colleagues and friends (including Deepak Chopra), offers lessons in how to be with a person who is sick and dying, and incorporates teachings from myriad spiritual and religious traditions. This narrative is valuable reading for not only people whose loved ones are experiencing serious illness, but anyone who is seeking to learn how to live with authenticity, to forgive and love people wholeheartedly, and to forgive and love oneself – down to the marrow – for being a flawed and struggling human being.


Harper Collins

Place Published

New York



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