When I got Elizabeth Edwards’ 2009 book, Resilience, I couldn’t wait to read it. I wanted to understand how she made it through so many difficult moments, both personally and professionally. I really wanted to savor her words, so I took her book to Maine with me on my vacation.
As I read it, what I found in her words wasn’t the strong woman I expected. Instead, through most of Resilience, I found a woman who lived with a lot of illusions and disappointments. The more I read, the more I thought Elizabeth Edwards fulfilled all the qualifications for what I described in Victorious Woman as the “Surviving Woman.”
For most of her life, I think Elizabeth Edwards was like many of us – we do what we think is right, try to think the best of others and turn our heads when we don’t want to face the truth. We often do too much to accommodate everyone else’s needs and wants. Too often our good intentions aren’t rewarded. “B- – – h” and “Control Freak” are two words often used by others – and that’s how some described Elizabeth. And after all that, the people we’ve done it for turn on us – as John Edwards did by having an affair, one that produced a child.
When Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with cancer, she fought bravely and with grace. But based on what she said in her book, I believe it wasn’t until she was so publicly humiliated by her slick, phony-baloney spouse that she stepped into her truest power.
My eyes filled with victory tears as Elizabeth Edwards described her decision to open a furniture store. She did it, she explained, because it was a long-time dream and she wanted to have something just for herself. Her partner was not her spouse. She reveled in the fact that she wasn’t Mrs. Edwards or the “spouse of” Senator Edwards or the candidate’s wife. At her store, she said she was “just Elizabeth” and that filled her with happiness.
I think she had it all in perspective by then. Too bad it was only a little more than a year ago.
With her passing, I believe each of us can find love and strength in Elizabeth Edward’s last years. Here’s what I hope her life teaches:
- Find your SELF – If you don’t, you become merely a reflection of someone else
- Nurture the spirit within – pay attention to how your spirit feels and only agree to do what feels right from deep within
- Be the leader of your life – unless you are, how do you know if you’re living your purpose or being used by someone to fulfill theirs?
- Teach your children – “They have to know how to fly by themselves,” Elizabeth said, and to know “what to do when the winds take them off course.” Be the model, not just the voice, so your children aren’t afraid to go out into the world and live victoriously.
I feel sad that Elizabeth Edward’s lost her battle. I hope she transitioned to the next life with peace.