Saturday, December 11, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards and the impact she has left behind...

I'm sure most of you heard this week that Elizabeth Edwards lost her 6 year battle with cancer.  No one can deny what an outstanding woman, leader, mom, or example she was.  Earlier this week, I made a comment about the loss and placed a small dig about her being misguided as a Democrat.  While Democrats and I do not see eye to eye on many issues, primarily abortion, I didn't really have any idea of just how amazing Elizabeth was.

For example, I had no idea that she had lost her son 14 years ago in a freak car accident or how that same year she established a foundation in his memory.  After watching all 1 hour and 23 minutes of her funeral, I learned about how she visited her son, Wade's grave, to whose side she is now buried, each and every day until the day she gave birth to her daughter.  I didn't know that she read him the bible, poetry, and other literary works at his gravesite.  I didn't know that she tended to him, brought new flowers, and while cleaning off his grave after a storm, would also clean the graves of those buried with him.  She knew their names and their stories.  I had no idea how much Elizabeth & I had in common, although I am certainly not comparable to her.

She had the ability to always be brave and look at the bright side of things.  Even in the face of death, she spent years writing letters to her children filled with advice and love for them to treasure even after she was gone.  She was smart, very smart, had a great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at herself.  She was so much more than a politician's wife.

As I grieve over the loss of an amazing woman, I have to tell you how wrong I was to initially post a dig about her being a Democrat.  Cancer has no likeness of political party, and whatever her beliefs, she was strong and convicted, the same way I am in my beliefs.  While I wish that I would have learned more about her sooner, I can follow the example that she set.  Amidst great turmoil, embarrassment, and shame, she carried herself with dignity, grace, and hope.  She never felt like a victim.

I would be lying to you if I didn't think to myself regularly, "Why me?" or "Why Savannah?"  Savannah's life was a blessing to me, each and every day of those 40 weeks and 3 days.  She has given me hope to persevere in the midst of doubt and anger.  We cannot advance in life if we aren't willing to take risks.  Savannah has inspired others with her story, her life, and the life lessons that her life has taught our family.

Just as Elizabeth Edwards has done, each week, when I visit Savannah and clean her grave site, I hope that one day, after I am gone, that Jeremy will do the same.  I pray that he will also lovingly take care of Savannah's neighbors.  A very dear and wise friend told me about how she would visit the graves of her parents, kneel down, and clean them with Pledge.  I had never thought about using Pledge before.  I purchased a can and one Sunday, after Church, I cleaned her grave.  As I stood back, I noticed how clean and shiny her headstone was.  I thought to myself, it's not fair that the others do not have nice and shiny headstones.  They are no less loved than Savannah even though they may not be visited as frequently.  I wanted to get home to Jeremy and Eric.  I started to walk back to my car and thought, I don't have enough paper towels to do it today.  I will do it next time.  As I opened up the back to put away my pledge and brush, there sat a brand new roll of paper towels.  I knew it was Savannah telling me to take care of her friends.  It took me nearly an hour to clean off the stones of nearly 40 other babies that are buried with Savannah.  But I know it's what she wanted me to do.  I never planned to share this story, but it's just one example of how she continues to speak through me.

I depend on Savannah and I look to her when I am in doubt.  I look to her for comfort when I am missing her so dearly.  I ask Jeremy questions about her because I want him to know all about his sister.  She will always be a part of our family and even though I want her here with me every second of every minute of every day, I know she is in a better place.  I know she is with God in a paradise that I can only imagine.  I know that people that I loved so dearly on this Earth are taking care of her, enjoying her, and holding her hand for me until we are reunited. 

She has taught me that I have to move on and move forward.  I know in my heart that Savannah's work on Earth was done, but I have more work to do.  I have wondered why God took Savannah and not me.  After all, I have lived a good life, had many opportunities, found true love, got married, and had a family.  I have been very blessed.  This is I'm sure what each mother dreams of for the life of their daughter.  Each of us has a mission and what we choose to do with it, make of it, or simply choose to ignore it is up to us.  I had an opportunity to use my skills and talents and passions for good and I strive each day to do that because it's what Savannah would have wanted.  No one cares about me or my accomplishments.  It is Savannah whose life and story would impact so many.  It is Savannah who has impacted this world.  I am only her Mother and her voice, but the messages I share are undoubtedly hers.

So, I apologize to Elizabeth Edwards and anyone who was offended with my words.  She was an amazing woman, and her legacy & everything that she stood for in this world will last long into the future.

Love to you & your family,

1 comment:

  1. "If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift." ~Elizabeth Edwards~

    A very wise mommy and woman! Thought you would enjoy this quote, it is one of my favorites!