Thursday, March 22, 2007

Some thoughts on Elizabeth and Julia

Well the Edwards' confirmed the cancer diagnosis today. I watched the press conference. She did not look good, pale and certainly thinner than in the past. But I was glad to see she hadn't lost her feistiness, snapping at the media that they had gotten the story wrong and the former Senator was indeed going to keep on the campaign.

Unfortunately for Ms Edwards, the cancer has returned in her bones. According to my sister the oncology nurse, this is not good. While in fact this makes the cancer incurable, it is also sign of movement of the cancer. My sister says they have been able to keep people with this type of cancer alive for more than six years, it is also a concern because of the spread.

This brought back of flood of memories of my friend Julia. Ms Marinucci, Julia and I went to high school together. Julia and I were in the choir and she had the most beautiful voice. I remember some absolutely thrilling moments listening to her sing. Carla and Julia did journalism things together like the school paper. Plus they lived very near to each other.
Julia was quick witted, a killer writer and just fun to be around.

I forget how it happened but somehow I found Julia about 10 years ago. She was married with three girls and living in what she called "god forsaken France." We kept in touch over the years and then she was diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer. By the time I got to see her in person, the cancer had moved quickly into her bones. She had lost a vertabrae in her neck and had trouble turning her head.

She went through all kinds of nasty treatments which she would tell Carla and I about in excruciating detail. I had to blot a lot of it out of my memory it was so painful and grotesque. She became an experiment for nasty ass drugs which made her body do horrible things. She was so miserable at times, not even the pain drugs helped.

But oh did she love her girls. She kept saying she wanted to see them married or even just to see them graduate from high school. Julia was a great mom, forever reasoning with the girls like they were adults, giving them the chance to live every moment they could with her.

Her husband, Colin, was a champ through this whole nightmare. He just kept helping her paying great attention to her needs. In these situations, the cream doesn't always rise to the top but Colin showed how much he loved Julia.

The last time I saw her, she was bedridden. But Julia had a sparkle that I miss to this day and will miss every day. I spent four hours with her that day. We laughed, we talked, I cried. Carla came over and we all carried on like we were still in high school. Only this time we were mocking Bush not the cheerleaders.

So today as Elizabeth Edwards facing the next chapter in her journey with cancer, I remember my friend Julia and wish there was a different way to see women's bravery.

1 comment:

Clark said...

I watched the John and Elizabeth Edwards interview last night on '60 Minutes' and admire them even more for their courage and fortitude. I think many LGBT Americans can appreciate their unique situation for we, too, have often been called to forge ahead with our lives while coping with HIV and AIDS in our families.

At the same time, I believe that it's just a matter of time until Mr. Edwards is forced to withdraw from the race. As it's clear that he is a compassionate and loving family man, I believe that the needs of his family will ultimately prove too overwhelming for an all-consuming presidential campaign.

As we all know so well, timing in politics - and life - is everything. Without a doubt, this experience will make John Edwards a better man - and a better public servant - and he will have many future opportunities to govern.

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