I know it’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog. Please forgive me for that. It’s been a roller coaster of sorts over the past couple of months. I have been preoccupied with some things happening in my life that have taken over my mind, heart and soul. Selfishly, I’ve been playing a victim through much of it all and thinking only about myself. I won’t go into details of what’s been going on. I may at another time, but something else is more important right now and it’s not all about me.
That revelation came to fruition yesterday when I heard that Elizabeth Edwards was gravely ill and today, not even 24 hours later, she passed away. Surrounded by family, she passed away gracefully into the loving arms of God. I read both of her books, Saving Grace and Resilience. I just finished the paperback Resilience Sunday night. Please if you get Resilience, get the paperback. It has an additional chapter about her separation from John Edwards and how she got through the decision to do so.
Like I said, It’s not about me. It’s about finding God and lessons in people I’ve never met.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that I was reading her book while at the same time, studying about the season of Advent. The themes of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, I found throughout the life of Elizabeth Edwards as I got to know her, through her interviews and her books.
Hope – After all that she went through, with the cancer, the affair, the press and tabloids, the campaigns and critics, Elizabeth always had hope. She was painstakingly honest when she shared that she had her moments of hiding under her covers, of believing what the others were saying, of wanting to please everyone, and of considering leaving the world to be with the child she lost so many years ago, but she kept hope in front of her. She never gave up on her fight, her life, or her spirit.
Peace – She had some terrible decisions to make – gut-wrenching, life changing, dream crushing decisions that she had to face. These were decisions I can’t even imagine having to deal with….but she faced them. She faced them with courage and strength and unbelievable grace. She did what she needed to do for her children and it was because of that, that she found peace.
Joy – and her children are her joy. She lived for them. She cried for them. She fought for them. She laughed and danced for them. They were the sources of her strength through all the storms. I am talking about all four of the children too. Wade, who she lost in 1996 in a car accident; her beautiful daughter Cate, who was never neglected in the midst of Wade’s passing and has grown into a remarkable young woman following in the legal footsteps of her parents; Emma Claire and Jack – the two spirits that gave her hope and new life, who have yet to realize what they will be capable of doing when they grow up. They are all her joy and now, even more so, as she is hugging Wade at this very moment.
Love – I didn’t have to watch one interview of Elizabeth’s to feel this love. All I had to do was read every word in her books and I could feel the love, even for her husband. The love for him. The love for her children. The love for her parents. The love for those in poverty. The love for her cause in universal health care, cancer research, and the Wade Edwards Foundation (www.wade.org). And, dare I say, even her love for the Tarheels. She loved what she did, who she was, and what she believed in – and followed that love with her actions.
I have to add one more word here, a word that has been mentioned already…
Grace – unbelievable grace that Elizabeth Edwards showed. She had grace for her husband as she considered the feelings of her children. She was protecting their images of “Daddy” in their eyes, when she spoke of him. Even though he broke the one promise she asked on their wedding day, “To be faithful,” Elizabeth held John in a positive light in front of Emma Claire and Jack. That was a gift for all of them and for all of us to witness.
She had grace in her life.
She also had the rare gift of standing strong for what was right, and doing so with the utmost grace. Grace beyond my understanding right now….but what a gift from her that she is teaching me.
She had grace in her death.
There are two passages from her Resilience memoir that struck a nerve with me and are becoming lessons learned….or I should say, learning.
One about sails that I could learn to adjust myself:
“I do not know what the most important lesson is that I will ever teach my children, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack. I do know that when they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way – and it surely has not – she adjusted her sails.”
And lastly, another thought about peace and how she finally received it. Here are the last words in Resilience:
“In the end there is peace. If we are strong; if we are resilient; if we are stubborn and filled with hope. If we know how to love, there is peace before that too. And honestly, that is enough.”
Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Edwards….Rest in Peace.