A guest post from Dana Rousmaniere:
Just a few days before she died, Elizabeth Edwards made a decision that no mother should ever have to make: to stop her cancer treatments on the advice of her doctors, who said that further treatments would be futile. Edwards, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, posted a goodbye letter of sorts on her personal Facebook page:
“You all know that 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. 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. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.
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. To you I simply say: you know.
With love, Elizabeth.”
On Tuesday, People magazine’s Sandra Sobieraj Westfall told Today co-anchor Matt Lauer that Elizabeth Edwards has been preparing her children, Cate, 28, Emma, 12, and Jack, 10, for her death for a long time:
“[Elizabeth started] writing a ‘dying letter,’ so she would have the advice to pass on and always be there with a mother’s wisdom when she couldn’t be there physically.”
As a mother to three children myself, I can’t fathom having to write that “dying letter.” I can’t imagine its contents, or how words could ever come together and adhere themselves to a piece of paper for the purpose of saying goodbye to my kids. There simply are no words. But, Elizabeth Edwards no doubt found a way to pass some of her own strength and wisdom on to her kids. Her words will surely carry them through the tough times ahead. And the mother’s wisdom that she so carefully poured into that letter will surely be something her children turn to again and again over the years. Elizabeth Edwards’ children must know how much their mother loved them, and that they are, by far, her greatest legacy.
Would you write a dying letter to your children? Share your thoughts below.
Photo: Janet Mayer / PR Photos