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December 6, 2010


to elizabeth edwards

by Andrea O'Connell

It is reported today that Elizabeth Edwards, former estranged wife of Senator John Edwards, is nearing the end of her time here on this good earth.

The doctors have advised that she not continue her cancer treatments as they are doing little good, the cancer is too advanced now.  Elizabeth is, reportedly, resting at home with family.

I have been very fond of Elizabeth Edwards for a long time now.  She has inspired me by the courageous life she leads.  She is a noble, valiant woman; a role model and stalwart icon of sorts. Why, she barely flinched when it was revealed that her cancer was inoperable and would likely kill her sooner rather than later.  The news of the seriousness of her cancer came as John Kerry and John Edwards were in the throes of their 2004 Presidential campaign.  I seem to recall that she did not reveal, even to John, that her cancer had spread for fear it would take his focus away from the campaign.

And now, her end is near and still she rises to the occasion and issues a loving missive regarding what it means to live with a hopeful and grateful heart:

You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found 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. It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel towards everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.  Source:  The Huntington Post

Yes, the days of our lives are numbered.  And the days go so quickly, don’t they?  I think so many of us never realize in our teens and twenties, that life is not forever.  We realize in our fifties, I think, that the days go by so quickly!

So relentlessly fast is this jouney called life!  If only we knew how fast it went!

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?  ~ Our Town, by Thorton Wilder,

I believe that Elizabeth Edwards does appreciate life every, every minute.  She has known such tragedy, as have many of us, but her tragedy has been so public and she’s reacted with a grace that many of us could only hope to own.

When her former estranged husband, John Edwards, candidate for President in 2008, was found to have been cheating on her, she did not show disgust or disdain, did not appear to wish him harm or react with hateful spite.  She did not play the victim either, she’s far to noble for that role.  She simply faced it and moved on with such simplicity of purpose.  The marriage ended, and that was that.  She had more life to live, thank you very much, she seemed to say.

And now she faces the end of her life.  A life cut too short.  I do wish she had another twenty, or so years left to continue to inspire me.

When I read that the end was near for her, my first thought was a realization that she will soon be reunited with her deceased son, Wade (Wade died in a car accident in 1996.)

Wade’s death wreaked havoc on the Edwards family, as the death of a beloved child would to any family, to Elizabeth and John, it changed them dramatically.  They began their focus on civil service as a result of Wade’s death because they realized they wanted to give back to people and be good citizens of the world.

I don’t know what happened to John Edwards along the way.  Suffice it to say, he eventually followed a different path.

But this is about Elizabeth, not John.

Elizabeth.  Dear Elizabeth.

I pray that your travels are soft as you take up your flight home.

Peace be with you always.  Rest now.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 6 2010

    Andrea I’m so glad you wrote this post. I too have been very fond of Elizabeth Edwards. I’m very sad, and hope that she finds peace far far away from both the physical and emotional pain that she has experienced in this life.

    • Dec 6 2010

      Hi Mandy,

      It’s so sad, I know. Even though it was inevitable that her cancer would become unmanageable, I really thought she had so much more time left, or maybe I was just hoping she did. I can’t stop thinking about her tonight. I hope that she has some quality time left to enjoy the closeness of her family and like you say, she can be free of all the pain she has known in this life.


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