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March 23, 2007

More Thoughts On John Edwards' Decision

Yesterday I offered my opinion on John Edwards' decision to continue his candidacy for president, in spite of his wife's sudden change in prognosis. Today Dean Barnett does a much better job at expressing the sentiments I tried to convey:

[...] So they walked out of that doctor's office refusing to let her disease take their lives away. Some people are calling their decision courageous; others find it puzzling. Having been in a situation analogous to theirs, I think I have some understanding and I know I have some sympathy. They're working through all of this. Their first instinct is not to surrender. That's good, and it's what you would have expected.

[...] THROUGH THE YEARS, I'VE COME TO VIEW SERIOUS and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one's life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; other items that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.

At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: Family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day that you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they're all you have left.

But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end. The past several years for me have been a journey to what's at the center of my life. One of the things I found there that I didn't expect to was writing. (You lucky people.)

The Edwards have begun their own journey of that sort. Whether they still find presidential politics at the center of their lives a few months from now is an open question. Regardless, the journey is theirs, and one would have a heart of stone to wish them anything other than good luck and Godspeed.

AS I tried to point out yesterday, after all is said and done, family, faith, and love is really all that matters, and it is only these things that stay with us until the day we die. And sooner or later, all of us finally realize that it is these things that mattered most, whether we "got it" in time to enjoy them, or not. In the words I used yesterday, "There's much to be said about the idea of staying home, embracing life and enjoying the family and the moments together, and dealing with life-threatening disease with as little unnecessary stress as possible." Stepping back from stress doesn't mean disengagement from life, quite the contrary, it's embracing it. The journey Dean speaks of is a maturing process, and its apparent to many of us who have suffered and dealt with chronic progressive diseases and survived much longer than was expected by the medical world, the first step in the journey of maturation to embracing those things in life that truly matter is getting past the shock and denial. In my opinion, the Edwards are working their way through this now, and in the end, seeking the presidency will be recognized as a distant last place in things that matter most to them.

Be sure and read all of Dean's excellent post.

Cross posted from Hyscience



Posted by Richard at March 23, 2007 10:16 AM





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