In her final words, she said that “in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that, I am grateful.” – Elizabeth Edwards (link)
If I were to write a memoir, I would want it to have the power and grace of Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards.
So often, I wonder why I choose a certain book to write about. On days like today, they all stand quietly on the shelf. None of them yell or reach out to me. I am in front of them, hunched over, reading the titles… remembering something about them. This one? That? Which one?
Ah, yes, this one. I still don’t know who this is for… but as I’ve said before, I go with my gut.
I have a round-about way of thinking of things. Let me explain something about today. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. As I was waiting in the express line, a man called out from another line asking for help. He looked to be around 80, a cane laid across the cart, two small items inside, and he was leaning on the cart for support. The checker called someone on the loud speaker. People came in his line and went in front of him. I moved up in my line. Nobody came to the gentleman, who was still leaning, looking tired. I looked back and forth. Is he in distress? Didn’t seem to be, exactly. I couldn’t tell. I got to the front of my line. Still nobody came to help the man. I paid for my groceries and went over to him. I asked if he needed help. He said he was okay, he just needed help lifting a bottle of soda. Just then, an employee came over and I left.
As I walked out of the store, I thought of my dad. He’s had a rough year, as you may remember, and thank God he has my mom, who has also had a rough year, as you might imagine. And I thought, if he stood in the market, all alone, needing help, I would hope a kind soul would look out for him when nobody else came. And I got a little teary-eyed, and I thought about how quickly things change, which led me to another thought.
My thoughts went to a friend who almost died while in labor with her stillborn baby. I remember hearing the news and how the world stopped. I remember looking out our office window and wondering how people were laughing and chatting and having fun… how DARE they! Didn’t they understand? I remember thinking that exact thing. Why didn’t they understand?
Now, back to our book. How much do you remember about Elizabeth Edwards? Like many women, so much of her story was woven into that of her husband… well, ex-husband. Perhaps you remember him? John Edwards, the politician who ran for President of the United States, cheated on his wife and fathered a child with the other woman. For her part, his wife somehow lived through all that and also beat her first round with cancer, only to succumb to a second bout in 2010. This book is about all those things. A little. Mostly, it’s about the death of their son, Wade, in 1996. And how…
I’m reminded of my Before and After post. I’m reminded of my friend. I’m reminded of my dad. And a woman on FB who – every single day – shares a different photo of her son who died on a California freeway a year ago… or was it two? And some have wondered when she will get over it.
Elizabeth Edwards speaks for so many of us who understand these before and after moments.
I love that she resisted the word victim. I love that she still believed in God. I love that she rose above her husband’s indiscretions and her own shortcomings. I love that she acknowledged her humanness. I wish she could have lived longer… because I would have loved to see where she ended up. Her story could so easily be seen as a tragedy. It isn’t! It’s a realistic story about what happens when you’re gob-smacked and get back up, over and over. I suspect there is a special place in heaven for people like her.
* Originally written by me for this blog on September 17, 2018￼
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