Friday, October 20, 2006

"Saving Graces" - Elizabeth Edwards in Charlotte

Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Charlotte, N.C. hosted a reading and question-and-answer session with Elizabeth Edwards on October 11, 2006. The seating area was filled with interested readers who listened intently to Mrs. Edwards reading excerpts of her best-selling book "Saving Graces."

One particularly moving reading was a letter that Mrs. Edwards had written to a man named Steve who she'd never met in person, but had come to know, empathize with, and understand. After losing her 16-year old son Wade in an unfortunate car accident, Mrs. Edwards' and Steve's fates had caused them to cross paths at an online comunity/support group known as [ASG], which had come to be a new kind of family brought together by loss. Steve was disconsolate over his mother's death, so much that he'd lost the capacity for joy at the upcoming birth of his first baby. Thinking of how Wade would have admonished her, if he could, she found that the help she'd offered to Steve had also been therapeutic for herself.

As Mrs. Edwards read her eloquent, caring, encouraging, and empathetic letter to Steve [found on page 119 of the book], I held my video camera rather unsteadily because tears were coming to my eyes as she spoke.

Click on photo to see and hear Mrs. Edwards answer the blogger Anonymoses' question about the One America Committee blog

You can see and hear my video of Mrs. Edwards' letter to Steve at YouTube, but the effect is much better if you close your eyes and simply listen. [The camera work will make you dizzy - I'm so sorry. I need to use a tripod.]

I hope that Mrs. Edwards will not mind if I use a quote from her lovely book that I found to be very meaningful. It's about the last stage of grief, which is supposed to be acceptance.
[page 124, Saving Graces

"The last stage is acceptance. It is not an adequate word, and neither is resignation. Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose poetry I have loved since I was thirteen, wrote,
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in cold ground...
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
What is the word for the battle-weary, who at some place deep within him continues to rail but whose voice is now quiet, beaten finally into silent submission by reality? The levels of our being are like stories upon stories of a building through which a fire has run, weakening everything, making life on any of these other levels precarious causing us not to walk to the edges but stay in the middle of the rooms with the false sense that we are there protected. (At least, we imagine, we might see another fire coming at us, and might not be caught so unaware.) But on the floors that remain, we carry on with a life that seems, in its sad serenity, both to acknowledge the wreckage below us and to embrace the life about us. Maybe Yeats described it best, and certainly most simply: "I am accustomed to their lack of breath." Not resigned or accepting, just accustomed...."


Mrs. Edwards is a wordsmith extraordinaire. I thank her for her healing and inspirational work from the heart.

I'll soon be posting another diary about Mrs. Edwards' vibrant participation at the Converge South conference on October 14, 2006. In this photo, I'm waiting to have my picture taken with her. Well - I guess if we're going to get technical, I am actually "with her" in this picture - but she's such a popular lady with bloggers that I was being patient and standing nearby until she was ready for the real picture. ;)

Many thanks to the blogger known as NCDem for uploading the video artfully to YouTube.