|Elizabeth Edwards*Getty Images|
July 3, 1949 - December 7, 2010
I thought I'd said all that was possible about Elizabeth Edwards. Since the announcement last night about her worsening condition, lovely attributes of good will (from Doug Ulman on Twitter "@livestrong is thinking about our dear friend Elizabeth Edwards. Living with such grace.") have continued nonstop. In the process, the accolades continue to grow. It almost feels as if her obituary is being written in the here and now. It has been some time since a female public figure, one who had never sought public office on her own, has so captivated our attention.
There are many qualities about her we love: her intelligence and the kind of strength that attracts us like moths about warm light. She is a grounding force, not just in the slippery world of politics, but for life in general. Those who have met her and wrote to me invariably mentioned her kindness, a beauty that flows beyond the photos. Her ability to move forward following the unimaginable death of one of her own children draws us to her. Add in her extraordinary way of communicating ANYTHING, then her cancer. By her own description she is resilient. Plus, in many ways she was a far better politician than her cartoonish husband could ever aspire to be. He slipped and fell headfirst into the beauty of his own shadow and she kept on going.
For the better part of this morning, and some of last night as well, I've reread news articles and am about to search for others that profiled Mrs. Edwards from the early days of the campaign. But when her cancer recurred, and she opted to continue on the campaign trail, I remember angrily writing my sister, "how could she DO that?" Step aside, I remember thinking. Go take care of yourself. But I also know how easy it can be to get caught up in something that feeds you. It is often much harder to step aside than it is to keep on going.
What came clear to me about Elizabeth Edwards is that in addition to her many incredible qualities she also became a canvas on which we might paint life's very best qualities. As anyone we admire starts to slip away the feelings of grief, of anger, of sadness, for our combined cancers begins to multiply. Public figures like Elizabeth and Lance Armstrong serve us so incredibly by gently and generously extending the best of themselves. It it's as they offer their best qualities, and in the beauty of our shared humanity - we take what they gently extend and in any way we can, play it forward. No one can accurately describe the dance we have with those we don't' know but love and admire none-the less, and no one can tell me it isn't real, either. Somehow in her life, many of us found more of our own.
Elizabeth, thank you. Bask in the love of your family and friends. Surprise us, yet again. Let all these prayers take you far past your expiration date. It will be a long time, before we'll let you go.