I identified with Elizabeth Edwards. Like her, I had lost a child. Like her, I was a book author. Like her, I spoke to community groups. For years, I followed Elizabeth on television and admired her from afar. She was truly a woman of laughter, grace and courage.
What is courage? According to the dictionary, it is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with firmness and without fear.” I don’t know if Elizabeth faced the recurrence of cancer without fear, but television footage shows her smiling and campaigning for her husband right after her cancer returned.
Often she was the better campaigner – upbeat, funny, and natural. Despite the grief she must have felt, Elizabeth refused to give in to pain, disease, or pity. She faced her own death, worried about her children, and how they would get along without a mother. Elizabeth seemed to have the personal courage her husband lacked.
I admire her for chugging on, for writing books, for making television appearances when she wasn’t feeling well. Though she suffered hardship after hardship, Elizabeth retained her joy at being alive. Americans admire this kind of grit and I think that is one reason for the nation’s grief at her passing.
Elizabeth was a giver, someone who thought about others before herself, and we can benefit from her example. Each of us has this day, this life, this opportunity to make a difference. We can make the most of what we have, be role models for our children and grandchildren, and leave a legacy for those who follow.
There are too few Elizabeths in the world and I wish, oh how I wish, I had met her.
Harriet Hodgson 2010