Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7, 2010 – Remembering Elizabeth

Sad news, this evening, of the death of Elizabeth Edwards. Evidently, in the end it happened very quickly for her, which is a mercy.

The “late unpleasantness” of her husband’s irresponsible behavior has dominated the headlines in the past year or so, and many of us were very sorry to see that burden added to those Elizabeth was already carrying. It speaks to the strength of her character that, through faith and sheer determination, she somehow found the inner strength to be there for her family, to face the television cameras with her head held high and to continue to use her celebrity status to exercise compassion for others.

Her books, in which she candidly shared her life story, have been an inspiration.

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, himself a lymphoma survivor, shared a frank exchange he had with Elizabeth about her Christian faith, and the doubts she sometimes experienced, about both her cancer and the tragic, accidental death of her son, Wade:

“When I arrived, Elizabeth told me that cancer had essentially freed her to say whatever the hell she wanted. Then she proved it, by questioning the one thing all presidential candidates and their spouses must embrace - religious faith: ‘I’m not praying for God to save me from cancer. God will enlighten me when the time comes. And if I’ve done the right thing, I will be enlightened. And if I believe, I’ll be saved. And that’s all he promises me.’ But did she believe? Here she went further than any public figure this side of Christopher Hitchens.

‘I had to think about a God who would not save my son. Wade was – and I have lots of evidence; it's not just his mother saying it – a gentle and good boy. He reached out to people who were misfits and outcasts all the time. He could not stand for people to say nasty things about other people; he just didn’t want it. For a 16-year-old boy, he was really extraordinary in this regard. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. You’d think that if God was going to protect somebody, he’d protect that boy. But not only did he not protect him, the wind blew him from the road. The hand of God blew him from the road. So I had to think, ‘What kind of God do I have that doesn’t intervene - in fact, may even participate - in the death of this good boy?”

That’s so like Elizabeth Edwards. She always told it like it is. Unlike so many people in public life who live elegantly fabricated lives, she was real.

Elizabeth will be well-remembered by those of us in the cancer community as a determined survivor, an encourager of others, an activist for change - and yes, a woman of faith. Let us offer prayers of thanksgiving for her life and witness.

1 comment:

Whidbey Woman said...

My husband and I were also deeply affected by the news of Elizabeth's death. She inspired us, and others, by the way she lived... loving, forgiving, accepting, facing cancer head on and with such courage!