Friday, July 04, 2008

Not fair!

Not on the Fourth of July, for heaven's sake!

Today, the day when we celebrate everything our country is and dream of what we know it CAN be, I receive a letter from,* of all people, Elizabeth Edwards. Asking for money to support the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Here's how she opens:

"Throughout my battle with breast cancer, so many extraordinary people have reached out to me and my family, holding us up with their gentle but unwavering support. The truth is, I have been very fortunate -- not just because of their support but because I have good health care coverage. I also haven't had to worry about whether I might lose my home to foreclosure or how I'll put food on my children's table or gas in my car."

Dammit, I don't have a chance. Just let me get my checkbook.

This woman is practically a saint. Certainly a much, much better woman than I am. I cannot imagine being in Elizabeth Edwards' position and considering myself "fortunate." In November, 2004, on the very day that Senator Kerry heartbreakingly conceded defeat and Elizabeth watched her husband NOT win the Vice Presidency, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In March, 2007, she learned that her cancer returned with a vengeance and is considered incurable. Yet she feels lucky because of her loving family and friends and her financial resources, and is fighting on behalf of those who don't have these benefits.

I adore her because of her candor. The confessions in her autobiography Saving Graces: Finding Strength and Solace from Friends and Strangers touched me deeply. After the sudden, tragic death of her son, Wade, she came undone. Unable to work, barely able to function, she courageously chronicles those raw and desperate times in searing detail, and acknowledged the assistance she received when she needed it most.

She discusses how she pulled herself out of it, slowly over time, and concentrated on the family that survived. Her then-teenaged daughter Cate needed her, so did the husband who decided to honor Wade by dedicating his life to public service. Between the ages of 48 and 50, she gave birth to two babies, Emma Claire and Jack (now 9 and 7). Her book made a difference in my life. Her example emboldened me to reach out to others when I hurt, and this wise woman has taught me that letting them help can deepen my relationships with those I love.

Aside from the really great hair, the blue eyes, the practically flawless skin and honey-sweet voice, I love John Edwards for his partnership with Elizabeth. She's a great campaigner and an independent voice and his closest adviser. When I recall all this couple has gone through together over the last 30+ years, things that have sunk many other couples, I am in awe. And I realize that it has taken more work on their parts than good fortune.

The woman is dying. She knows that. She has said, though, that everyone dies -- she just has a better idea of when and how. And she considers herself fortunate, and is working on behalf of those she sees being left behind.

She represents the best of America.

*OK, it arrived yesterday but I'm just now getting to my mail.

Friday Music Memoirs #2

Happy 4th of July to all of us here in the USA! And to celebrate:

Top 5 songs/and or albums that have America in the title.

Wings Over America -- Paul McCartney and Wings

Breakfast in America -- Supertramp

America the Beautiful -- Ray Charles

Living in America -- James Brown

America's Greatest Hits -- America*

*OK, I don't know that this is a real album, but I believe it's a really good guess

To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers answered, click here.