Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards

I'll admit that I've put off reading Edwards' book Saving Graces because, frankly, I wasn't sure I was ready. If you've ever sat in a doctor's waiting room preparing for a diagnosis that you already know in your heart, then you'll understand what I mean. But, I was going to hear her speak at the upcoming American Library Association conference and wanted to have read her book before I met her.

There is no easy way for a doctor to look you in the eye and tell you that you have cancer and there's no easy way to hear the news. When Elizabeth Edwards, in her absolutely beautiful book, described getting that news just a few days before the 2004 election, I felt like it was happening to me all over again. I didn't cry the first time. This time, walking in my neighborhood, I listened and sobbed, not for myself but for all the people I know and have known who have had to face this devastating news. What a catharsis!

There is nothing in the book to indicate that Mrs. Edwards had a co-writer to help her manage these memories. She is an attorney after all, and familiar with crafting briefs. She writes as if she's simply telling a story to a friend and you feel like a friend when you're listening. She moves quickly past the cancer - no self pity or sorrow there - because the majority of the book focuses on Wade, her sixteen year old son who was killed in an automobile accident. That's when the tears just don't stop.

A child's death seems to me an inconceivable heart break and yet Saving Graces is not a heartbreaking book. It is courageously honest yet remarkably uplifting. Elizabeth Edwards takes readers into her confidence, sharing the lowest point of her life, the biggest challenge to her marriage, and the truth behind all the political spin. She speaks of the blogs and listserves for parents whose children have died and the "saving graces" that came from having others to pour your heart out to in anonymity, without fear of judgement. She talks of her husband John and their amazing daughter Cate, another one of their saving graces.

No matter what your politics, this is a family that you'd like to get to know better. For that reason I'm anxious to go for my walk now and get back to the book. I'm sorry to say that I won't get an opportunity to meet Elizabeth Edwards next week. It seems this tough lady is on the campaign trail in Iowa and had to cancel her speaking engagement in Washington. Our loss is the country's gain.

1 comment:

Infobabe said...

I write reviews for LJ and yet I can't think of anything better to say than I love reading this blog. Everyday I look forward to seeing whether you have posted. You write so beautifully, Sally. I'm so glad that you have taken on this challenge this year or I never would have known how lovely you craft a thought and turn a phrase.