Sunday, December 6, 2009

Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards

"What was it?" I asked.

She fingered the corners of her mouth, speaking while she contorted her lips. I hope I understood her, for maybe it was one of the last lucid things she might ever say. Or maybe I hope I didn't understand her because it was hard to think these were her last clear thoughts. "I learned my hopes for how my life was going to turn out were not going to be."

I waited a few moments. She didn't say any more. "What does that mean, Mother?"

"The trust was supposed to be deep," she said. "The smiles were supposed to last forever."

In the above passage, Elizabeth Edwards reflects on the secrets within her own parents "perfect" marriage. Edwards watched as her mothers' suspicions of infidelity on her father's part tore her mother up for years. That experience prompted Elizabeth to ask her new husband for one thing on their wedding day: never cheat. Leave me, she said, and I'll be all right. But do not become unfaithful; do not lie. The passage above leads into one of the chapters of Elizabeth Edwards' life that wasn't covered in her excellent memoir, Saving Graces - the news of her husband John Edwards' affair.

This will be a short post for a short book. Elizabeth Edwards' follow up is autobiographical only in that certain stories provide a background for the advice she imparts to readers. This book would probably be a great comfort to someone facing a loss or the infidelity of a spouse, but Edwards also speaks generally to any adversity. Just for the record, Elizabeth lost her son when he was 16, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, found out her husband had carried on an affair with another woman in 2006, and then learned that her cancer was back, and terminal, in 2007. The poor woman knows adversity.

If Saving Graces was Edwards' memoir, this could probably be called an inspirational self-help book. The focus is less on Edwards' own life and more about how people deal with adversity in general. I finished it in a day (full disclosure: I had to sit in a waiting room all day or this book probably would have been dragged out longer). While I didn't care for it I'm sure someone will get a lot out of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.