I never knew anything about Elizabeth Edwards until her husband's campaign as the vice president nominee alongside John Kerry. Even then I didn't pay as much attention to her as I did to what her husband's party's mission was during that time.
I paid a little more attention to her when it was in the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Not only that, but they also talked about the loss of their 16-year-old son in a car accident. Everyone has experienced some kind of loss in their life whether it is a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend, co-worker, or other relative.
I kinda got a little emotional watching the news the past couple of days and the way in which they talk about Elizabeth and the things she wanted to leave behind; those things that don't make her some kind of martyr but just doing the most simplest of things and realizing that the most important thing anyone can do is their best.
She had said in an interview that she didn't want her children to think of her as dying, but rather as living life in the best way that she could. Their family also never denied what it was that was happening and didn't make attempts at minimizing the situation.
I have a lot of admiration for a woman like that. She faced some major challenges in her life and while her distance after the loss of her son is certainly justified, she then made a decision to work through and take a direction in which she was going to try and make a difference.
As is typical of me, I will tend to reflect on my own life when I hear stories like that. As many people may know and some may not, probably the single most life-changing event in my life was the day I found out Matt, my fiance, had been killed in an automobile-pedestrian accident.
And I will forever be grateful for my sister, Olivia, taking the time to set up grief counseling for me. I'm not sure if I would have done that on my own, but I did agree to go. My first session was the worst and it took everything in my being to say to Robyn that he had died less than 2 weeks prior. I was certain that my life would never be good again.
Robyn asked me at one point, after some time had passed, if I still felt the same. By then I had this extremely strict routine down that I realized later was my way of trying to control everything else in my life because losing him made me feel like I was completely out of control. I felt totally helpless. I wanted some sense of having a hold of my life and learned that I was holding onto the wrong things. I had to change things within me and do some hard work; not expect things around me to change.
I told Robyn that I was really tired and I felt like I had aged a lot. I was 24 when he died. But I told her that I was determined enough to not be one of those who took this event and use it as a way to cultivate misery and self-pity. Matt had a ton of energy and sometimes it drove me crazy, but he had a great perspective on life that was not realized because he was sick or had had any major life event. He was just happy and recognized that being a good person and always trying to do the right thing were just a small part of living a quality life.
One thing that I will always remember about Elizabeth Edwards is that she said one of her saving graces besides her family and friends was her "faith in the power of resilience and hope." I think that's a huge statement of her character. I think that too often people don't believe in their own ability to survive or that they have the fortitude to actually move in a direction that will only lead to better things and a happier existence.
I remember I had one woman call me after Matt's death. She had lost her daughter several years ago and she called to tell me that things would only get worse. She said that she was still so angry and still didn't pray or anything since her daughter died. My thought:
"Bitch, you don't know me and don't think I'm anything like you. If you're calling to tell me that I will only become more miserable and sad, then you just wasted your time. I feel sorry for you that you have chosen to still think of yourself rather than what your daughter lived. Fuck you and your sorry existence."
I was so angry, it amazed me that people can come to you and say the things they say. She was not thinking of me but of herself. And I didn't ask for attention or anything, all I wanted to do was get through it and come out of it in a better place.
I've had other life experiences and I think that how you view your experiences is what determines who you are; you can either say, "Why me?" or you can say, "Bring it on because I'll conquer this one too."
I think Elizabeth Edwards made a tough decision in deciding to continue putting her life in a positive direction and not let the cancer consume her. She said that cancer would not keep her from living. I love that.
I've done a lot of work to be a different person since his death, and he is one who I think of often who I give credit to for being such a great example. He wasn't perfect by any means but he did his best and worked very hard to always move forward and to be better.
I think that the fact Elizabeth Edwards took the time to call family and friends when she found out that her treatment was no longer working was amazing. She wanted people to know they were important to her and she also wanted to make sure others were taken care of. I would bet that she even had plans in place for her funeral so that others would have less to worry about. She also took the time to write letters to her kids about what advice she felt would be important to them and also wanted to make the most of those days prior to her death. They played games and had fantastic moments while also allowing for tears. She was a realistic woman, yet not so stoic that she disallowed others to express their feelings or her own.
It'd be nice if everyone could live like that and always remember what it is that's important in life.
On a lighter note, Moose knows what's important: kisses, hotdog toys, dryer sheets, and fleece blankets in the winter.