I didn’t have a single conversation with Elizabeth Edwards, but something about her passing yesterday struck a sadness in me. I found out she passed through a facebook status, a single line reading, RIP Elizabeth Edwards. As soon as the news entered my spectrum, I told my husband, “Elizabeth Edwards died this afternoon.” He sighed and said, “Oh, that’s sad. Why does her passing effect you so much?”
It is that question from my husband that prompts this post today. Even as I told my husband the news of her death, I felt a punch in my own stomach. From my vantage point, I know she endured many adversities, including the very abrupt death of her sixteen year old son Wade, her subsequent pregnancies at 48 and 50, her husband’s very public scandal with his mistress, and of course, her very candid cancer battle. At the time of her death, she was surrounded by her three children.
It is this one fact conveyed in the news story that brought me to tears.
Her oldest daughter is Cate is 28. Elizabeth will not see her daughter in her wedding dress or watch her walk down the aisle. She won’t be there to see Cate give birth to her own children. Her second oldest daughter Emma is only twelve years old. Emma won’t be able to run to her Mom to talk about all those teenage angst moments or share her giddiness when she gets her driver’s license. Her son, Jack, is only ten. Elizabeth won’t be able to hug him tight or tuck him at night.
She will miss so many moments in her children’s lives. And that is what speaks to me most about her passing. As a mother, I can’t imagine my daughter doing anything without me bearing witness. Especially all of the milestone moments. I act as a lighthouse for my daughter. When she is happy or sad, her eyes dart all around to find me and she looks to me to illuminate and highlight what she is feeling. I am there for empathy, for love, for comfort, for her daily sustenance.
I can’t even fathom how Elizabeth Edwards continued to perservere, knowing that she wouldn’t be there for the moments in her children’s lives. She spent the last six years preparing for her finale, writing letters to her children and writing two books, I suspect, for her children.
In her final days, she wrote, “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.”
My hope is Elizabeth Edwards is reunited with her sixteen year old son Wade, serving again as his lighthouse after all of these years.