Elizabeth Edwards' children (ages 28, 12, and 10) may have to soon deal with something way beyond their years, if Elizabeth's recent goodbye message is any indication. Her cancer has spread, treatment has stopped, and now the family is together, making the most of the moments they have.
If she passes, Emma Claire, her 12-year-old, won't have her mother there to ruffle her prom dress. Jack, 10, won't be able to pick out his mom's voice in the stands during his game. She won't be there to teach them how to drive. To meet and grill their first loves. To dry the tears left by those first loves.
They'll be ripped of so many moments -- big and small -- which no one can even begin to understand.
Her kids must be proud of her -- she has shown such grace and strength, and is admired even by those that don't personally know her. That goes without saying. But knowing that doesn't ease the pain. It doesn't make it hurt any less. She's just "mom" to them -- the one that they fight over bedtime with, the one that packs their lunches, the one that patches them up after a nasty fall. And that's the only label that matters. The world may lose a great woman, yes, but they would be losing their mother.
People will mean well when they come up to them during this difficult time and say, "She is such an inspirational woman. You have to be strong like her." But no, they don't. They can cry. They need to cry. Heck, I'm about to cry just thinking of it. I can't imagine going day-to-day not knowing if that's going to be the last day that I get to hug my mother.
Obviously, Elizabeth Edwards is handling this with strength and bravery, as her Facebook message reads:
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.
But for kids dealing with this situation, especially when it's a parent, they shouldn't be expected to be strong. They should just let loose whatever emotion they have boiling up inside. Whether it's anger, sadness, confusion, guilt, or grief. And they'll likely feel all of those things at some point or another. They'll scream, It's not fair while some kin tries to comfort them saying that God wants her with Him because she's too good for this Earth. But it will go in one ear and out the other, because, ultimately, it truly is not fair. The fact that they have to continue their lives with such an important piece of it missing isn't fair, no matter what people say or believe.
I only hope that people save the empty comfort talk and "words of wisdom" and give the kids what they will need to get through all of this -- support. Allowing them to act upon whatever emotion it is that they're feeling, and express it in ways that they feel comfortable with.
Could you imagine losing a parent at such a young age?
Image via Facebook.com