A Mother and her Two Daughters

15 December 2010

The Spirit of Resilience

re·sil·ience  (noun)
1. the ability to recover quickly, as from misfortune.

It has taken me a week to express my sadness about the death of Elizabeth Edwards.  So many emotions were conjured up for many of us, especially women, and especially those of us who’ve had breast cancer.  In all honesty, I’ve felt very discouraged that today’s treatments weren’t strong enough to control the cancer and save her life. 

For me, Elizabeth Edwards wasn’t a political icon.  Instead, she was an image of courage and grace, the exemplar of a tireless champion for women facing so many of life’s personal challenges – the sorrow from losing a loved one, the anguish of a body weakening disease and the challenges of betrayal.  She shared her many life obstacles with openness and great dignity that allowed us to connect with her on a very personal level.  For women who experienced the same life hurdles, she gave us hope to push forward and survive. 

Edwards faced unimaginable tragedy in her storied life.  And while others might have thrown in the towel, given in to the many heartbreaking days, she never stopped being a protective mother, a spirited advocate for the less fortunate, a champion for health care and an inspiration to so many.  

When talking about the disease, Edwards always said her battle was not with cancer. Her battle was making every day meaningful and full of joy. And like every other battle she fought, she won. She maintained her happiness, her joy and her unquenchable passion for making the world a better place until the very end.

She got much comfort from her belief in the resilient spirit. In her own words: “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

The language of the resilient spirit is I AM, I HAVE, I CAN.  And so was the life of Elizabeth Edwards.  If we could all carry with us a piece of her tenacity, focus and resilience, life and death would be perceived as a much better place. 

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