Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities
Reviewed June 23, 2009.
Broadway Books, New York, 2009. 213 pages.
Elizabeth Edwards has had to deal with the death of her beloved sixteen-year-old son, having cancer, and her husband's betrayal. Reading this book doesn't give answers for dealing with issues of that magnitude, but it does feel like talking with a sister who's been there. Comforting and reassuring, her words help you carry on, whatever your own issues are. Not because she seems so together, but because she's open and honest about ways that she is not together.
Each time I fell into a chasm -- my son's death or a tumor in my breast or an unwelcome woman in my life -- I had to accept that the planet had taken a few turns and I could not turn it back. My life was and would always be different, and it would be less than I hoped it would be. Each time, there was a new life, a new story. And the less time I spent trying to pretend that Wade was alive or that my life would be just as long or that my marriage would be as magical, the longer I clung to the hope that my old life might come back, the more I set myself up for unending discontent. In time, I learned that I was starting a new story. I write these words as if that is the beginning and end of what I did, but it is only a small slice of the middle, a place that is hard to reach and, in reaching it, only a stepping-off place for finding or creating a new life with our new reality. Each time I got knocked down, it took me some time just to get to acceptance, and in each case, that was only part of the way home.
This book is a gentle exploration of that process.