In Memoriam…

I am not a current events junkie. I have to force myself to watch the news on television or read a paper. I learn of current events in sound bites while doing cardio at the gym or by scanning the front page of a paper. I never allow myself to go past the headlines. If it isn’t important enough to make it to the front page, it’s not that important, right?

KVIE often airs specials by Doctors Andrew Weil and Wayne Dyer. If one is a guru for the body, the other is likewise for the spirit. Their approaches to total health are quite different, but one thing they agree on is the public media in America. With all due respect to the First Amendment, much of the news we get in this country is distorted, sensationalized and extremely negative. The doctors ask why we would want to pollute our bodies with bad news, and advise against a daily intake. I couldn’t agree more!

It is in this spirit that I picked up the paper when arriving at the office at 5:50 a.m. this morning. My daily scan didn’t make it past the fold. In fact, I didn’t even take the rubber band off. The news that screamed out at me from the upper left corner of the front page was the passing of Elizabeth Edwards in her 61st year of life.

I did not know Ms. Edwards, but I think I would have liked her. Like many, I learned about her during her former husband’s presidential runs . . . his rise and demise. My interest was heightened because they were from North Carolina, so we were likely cousins.

It’s easy to like a person when everything is going well, when they are enjoying a flattering national spotlight. We think we really know them through titles and images presented by the mass media. College Sweetheart-Turned-Wife. Devoted Mother. Active Volunteer. Respected Lawyer. Christian. All that is so sweet. It’s fun being a Fair Weather Friend. But the true test of a man or woman is how they react to adversity. What do they and we do when the titles change to Cheated Wife? Cancer Patient? Divorcee? I was intrigued enough by this question to go beyond the headlines. My mother says you never really know a person until they are tested. This is where the rubber hits the road. For some reason, I wanted to really know Elizabeth Edwards.

It turns out I did really know her after all. Whenever I saw her in print media or on television, she exhibited the same positive qualities following the fall of the Edwards Empire as she did before. Even in long interviews, like the one where Larry King pelted her with tough questions for an hour, she always kept her composure. She never said anything bad about John. She only spoke of herself, her kids and especially her dreams for the future, most notably a body that was cancer-free. In the South, they call this Class, and she had a lion’s share of it.

Mary Elizabeth Anania Edwards was a true lady. The world was a better place because of her, and we are all better for having known her. I’m glad we got to walk this path together, if only for awhile. Godspeed . . .

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