“The cancer is back. It has metastasized.”
Elizabeth Edwards listened and felt the same way any of us would. She was hearing what she dreaded. We all fear it — even if we don’t acknowledge that fear. Her husband, John, listened, and as he listened he wasn’t thinking about being a presidential candidate, he wasn’t thinking about how this news would impact his campaign.
He was thinking about being a husband. He was thinking about being a father of young children; he was reminded of mortality, his and hers. Ours.
Obviously I don’t know, for certain, what he was thinking. I’ve read about, and listened to Elizabeth and John talking about it. I admire their candor.
It’s an Easter story. Elizabeth has struggled with breast cancer for several years, doing what she needed to do. She’s been suffering the loss of her 16-year old son, Wade, for more than ten years.
Though I’ve paid more attention to other candidates in this important presidential race, I must say that I found myself responding very favorably to the interview I watched on 60-Minutes. Prior to that interview, I heard only sound bites, one of which stayed with me: “I was wrong on the Iraq vote,” he said.
You don’t hear candidates for major office say those three little words: “I was wrong.” The cynical part of me, and I’m guessing the cynical part of you, too, wonders if he said that for political gain, now that the vast majority of the American people are opposed to the war; now that I. Lewis Libby has been convicted of lying—now that we’re waiting to see if he will be pardoned by the President, who appears to have participated in that whole sordid affair from the start.
We hope for a President who will provide moral leadership. In our Service of Dedication of Parents and Children we ask parents, “Will you teach your child by your own example, as much as any theory, to seek truth and justice with love?”
Moral leadership, whether by parents or presidents, is the process of being intentionally honest, knowing the full and deep consequences of modeling dishonesty, deceit and deception.
Dishonesty, deceit and deception have plunged us into a moral crisis of unparalleled proportions. I’m sorry that Elizabeth Edwards has to deal with metastasized cancer, but I honor her decision to refuse to allow it to bring her life to a screeching halt. She said, “We’re all going to die; we all know it.”
Sandburg put it this way: “Nothing more certain than death, nothing more uncertain than the hour.” Life, for Elizabeth and John Edwards, goes on. Courage is the ability to face the realities in which we live—to face them honestly and openly. She’s demonstrating courage in the face of her adversity. Hopefully the media will respect their privacy, and, hopefully, the rest of us will take a lesson or two from the courage and honesty that we’re witnessing.
Easter is the ongoing drama of death and resurrection; it’s happening again, as the earth turns and spring pushes winter away. Stop, look and listen: ”i thank You God for most this amazing day.”