Monday, December 06, 2010

A life that has touched mine

I have mentioned many times that Elizabeth Edwards' first book, Saving Graces, had an enormous and very real impact on my life. That's why I devoutly wish that now, as it appears her life is reaching its end, she is enjoying peace. She has earned it.

In her second book, Resilience, she mentioned the Leonard Cohen song "Anthem" prominently. I'm including the refrain here because, well, it encapsulates her life outlook.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."

Thank you to a dear friend I have never met.

Elizabeth Edwards' cancer fight taken a turn for the worse, with the disease spreading to her liver and doctors recommending against additional treatment. "Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive. She is resting at home with family and friends," the Edwards family says in a statement to PEOPLE. On Monday, Edwards, 61, posted a Facebook message to her friends. "I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope," she writes. "These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that."

Edwards, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2004, was briefly hospitalized last week after not feeling well over Thanksgiving. Doctors said her cancer had metastasized to the liver.
With the sudden turn, family members – including daughter Cate, a Washington lawyer, and her brother and sister, Jay and Nancy Anania – hastened to Chapel Hill, N.C., to be with her. "It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day," Edwards wrote on Facebook. "To you I simply say: you know. With love, Elizabeth."

Celebration, not mourning

Here are the flowers displayed beside the chalice at this Sunday's service, courtesy of moi. The program says they are in celebration of my mom, my oldest friend and Kathleen. And so they are. All three ladies have birthdays in December, and I'd prefer to accentuate the positive.

It began snowing Friday night and kept it up for about 24 hours, leaving the world covered in a blanket of delightful white for the first time this season. I took that as a sign that it's time for us to turn the page, to look at the world from a fresh, clean perspective.

My resolve was solidified Saturday when I spoke to my mom Saturday night. I did not ask about my uncle's service. I didn't want to know. I let her talk because I thought she needed to. At one point, I asked if my flowers arrived. She said didn't know. There were only three arrangements -- one from my uncle's daughter and grandchildren, one from his stepchildren, and a little basket from somebody that was left on the floor.

SLAP! Yes, that was my arrangement. My mom went on to say it's OK, really, since "no one cares about flowers anyway."

After I calmed down, I realize that it may not have been just carelessly "left on the floor" and so what if they were? It's done. I was surprised that my mother didn't expect me to send flowers, for I care about and love them. (I'm looking at a vase of rust-colored mums on my desk right now.) But while my mother loves me, she doesn't really know or understand me. And nothing can be done about that anymore, either. It is what it is, and I should just appreciate her during whatever time we have left together.

As we hung up, I told her that I was done with the mourning part of remembering my uncle. I said that I am, for the most part, pretty chipper by nature and a week is long enough.

That set the table for Sunday. I came over for her birthday. I presented her with this photo as well as the church bulletin which listed her as birthday as a cause for floral celebration. Then I showed her and my nephews photos of many of the cats at Fried's Cat Shelter, one of my uncle's favorite charities. It was with much laughter and love that we chose a beat-up tom as the recipient of the donation I'll make in his honor. "Danny Boy" was chosen because he showed so much attitude and because my uncle had a soft spot for cats who were a bit the worse for wear. Much better than reliving who said what at the service.

Then I gave her a few little gifts, the four of us ate pie, and I left. She seemed very happy, and so was I.

I'll never forget my uncle. He was a tremendous part of my life. But I can't indulge in the funereal trappings anymore. The sun is out, the snow is clean and white, and life goes on.

Movie Monday -- Theater Pet Peeves

Share your biggest theater pet peeve, linking back here at The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Nightlights. Just because you have turned the volume off doesn't mean you aren't disturbing the rest of us when you check your texts and emails from your movie theater seat. The little light on your phone is like a freaking beacon. If you're that bored by the movie, why not just take a nap?