I’d fully intended to talk about the FDA’s recent OK of lap-band surgery for smaller people, but at the end of my workday Tuesday I heard the shocking news about Elizabeth Edwards’ death, and really haven’t been able to focus on anything else, since. It wasn’t the fact she died of breast cancer I found so distracting, but this: How will I be remembered?
I’m a strong advocate for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, testing and treatment. Breast cancer? Not so much. But unless I get some bad blood through a transfusion, I like to believe I have zero chance of contracting AIDS, but breast cancer – and just about every other cancer and debilitating, life-threatening illnesses – is a wild card, so good luck to us all.
Mrs. Edwards was only 61, her youngest children just 10 and 12. I’m praying her beloved son Wade, who died in a car accident in 1996, was there to greet her when she crossed over.
Life, though, is for the living, and what I’ve been wondering is whether I’ll be defined mostly by my current actions, or the past, or some combination of both. That brings to mind what I’ve been up to lately or, more specifically, on what I’ve been wasting my time. Oh, how I wanted “weight loss” to be among those things – giving me an excuse to ditch all efforts and dive face-first into the latest batch of Christmas cookies – but that would be ridiculous. Getting the rest of this weight off is essential for living my best life, and I’ve no doubt Mrs. Edwards would agree.
Life’s too short to struggle with sluggishness, poor health, poor diet and the bad attitude that accompanies all of that. Might as well just send a Welcome Kit to cancer and diabetes.
I’m uncharacteristically sad about Mrs. Edwards’ death. Usually, I don’t spend more than a minute thinking about the deaths of those who haven’t really touched my life in any way. I don’t think it’s because she lived right here in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). Definitely not because of her husband, because I never cottoned much to him. I think it’s because some people have a light around them – fittingly, the name of her last book is Resilience – and it shone through all the stress and mess she went through, and all the bad press about her temper and demands.
I’d like to be remembered as a shining light. As a fighter. As resilient. Maybe even as one who battled obesity for decades and won, inspiring thousands to do the same.
It could happen, and I wouldn’t mind at all being remembered for that.
The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.