Monday, December 6, 2010


I am an avid reader and just completed Elizabeth Edward's book Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities. It is a memoir of her life as impacted by her son Wade and his death at age 16 in a tragic car accident, her diagnosis with cancer and her husband's infidelity. Regardless of one's political leanings or affiliations or what one thinks of her husband's behavior, the woman has something profound to share. 

I found so much within the book that resonated with me. The resilience to go on when tragedy strikes, though the tragedy of losing and burying a child is way beyond what I bear, it looms. It always looms as a mother of a child with a chronic illness.

'Let's start with the unavoidable fact: If I had special knowledge about how to avoid adversities, about how to spot the pitfalls of life, I would spot them. I would avoid them, and I would share how it is I have managed that. I do not. I have a lot of experience in getting up after I have been knocked down, but clearly I do not know anything at all about avoidance. We all tumble and fall. I certainly have, but in truth it is going to happen, in some degree, to all of us. Oh, maybe everyone we care about will love to attend our funerals. Maybe disease will never make you afraid of a curling iron burn. Maybe everyone whom you love and who loves you will be loyal to you in every way for every day of your life. Or maybe not.'

Elizabeth Edward's cancer has grown and she has been advised that further treatment would be unproductive. She is reportedly at home surrounded by loved ones. She released a statement tonight: 

'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.'

Godspeed Elizabeth.
Thank you for sharing your vision of resilience and faith and hope.
It is my grandest wish that the first to greet you in heaven is your son Wade.


Unknown said...

Hope, resilience, and grace...Sweet Grace....I hope to live my life this way too.

Thank you Penny for this deep and though-provoking post.

Have a wonderful day!

LaLa said...

Her death has been weighing on me this evening. RIP, Elizabeth.

k2 said...

Everything about this post & it's subject was beautiful & inspiring on every level!