Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards and Craig Dunham - Smiling in the face of tragedy

Those of you who have been reading my blog with any regularity know that I've been dealing with quite a bit of grief lately. My good friend, Craig, died Monday, after battling ALS for 2.5 years. This came just a few months after my Dad died due to complications of colon cancer. There are not many people who I've loved with such depth but I loved both of these men, and they loved me.

It's difficult, when you're in the midst of grief, to pop out of it and act "normally." It feels somehow disrespectful to go about your life as though nothing happened. It was especially hard for me last week, when I knew Craig couldn't eat, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt so helpless.

I've been wondering if I should blog while I'm feeling this way. I feel like such a downer when all I can think about is grief and sadness. I don't want to burden my friends or family with it any more. It all seems so repetitive and dreary. I'd been really excited about my idea for my Love eBook, but then I got the news about Craig, and that's all I can think about now. So, you'll have to bear with me as my posts this month may lack much humor. I remember reading that Bill Cosby's son had been murdered and wondered how he was able to still stay in comedy. It must have been so difficult for him to find humor in life, even after his son died so tragically.

But that trait -- that ability to still find humor and live life despite adversity --that's a trait that I so admired in both Craig and my Dad.

I just read about Elizabeth Edwards' death this morning. She lost a son due to a car accident when he was 16. She publicly endured an unfaithful husband. She battled breast cancer for 6 years.

"Americans knew Elizabeth Edwards in large part through her tragedies, but more importantly, they knew her for the vitality and determination she showed through them."

Yes, that is the very thing about Craig that created such a sense of admiration in me that I cried all the time just thinking about him... not out of pity, but just out of sheer awe at his ability to smile and live life head-on with such "vitality and determination" despite a body that couldn't move and a voice that couldn't speak.

Never did he complain! He never lost his spunk! His eyes still twinkled with a mischievous humor that challenged the rest of us to keep smiling. He was the first who would want to go out and enjoy the fresh air (4-wheeling it with his wheel-chair), listen to music, or just enjoy the beauty of the world and live.

When you see that in a person, it makes you realize that if they can endure such tragedies and keep their humor, their hope, their faith -- certainly you can.

And so for all of us who are enduring grief, let's take a clue from the Elizabeth Edwards' and the Craig Dunhams of the world. Let's not give up on humor, faith, or life. Let's keep smiling.


Popo said...

My condolences to Craig's family and friends. Hearing this helps me savor the life that I have and revere those (such as Craig and Elizabeth) who have gone before me. I pray that I have learned from the lives they have lived and how they have faced their adversity.
Yvette, I hope you can find the strength to smile a little each day and NOT think it is dishonoring the memory of Craig. Your loved ones see that same importance in you that you saw in Craig.

Yvette said...

You're absolutely right, sweet Popo! You always make me smile!