Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why Is John Edwards Still in the Race?

I'm sure I'll get blasted from some people for saying this, but why is John Edwards still running for president after announcing that his wife has incurable cancer?

When I first heard the news of Elizabeth Edwards's cancer, I was dumbstruck, then horrified, then prfoundly sad. I cried, then prayed for her, her husband, and her family. I'm particularly upset because she has small children, about the same ages as my youngest children. I simply can't imagine anything worse for her and for her entire family than this tragic news.

So, why is her husband still running for president?

Maybe it's shock? Maybe it's denial? Maybe she told him she wanted him to continue, as a fulfillment of their dream together? I don't know. It just seems strange to me.

I know that the shock of a life-threatening illness can be hard to shake off. You can continue going through the routine of your life and tell yourself that nothing has changed. But surely, at some point, Elizabeth's illness will become so evident and prominent that her husband will really have to stop what he's doing to take care of her.

I'm not speaking from a scientific standpoint. I'm speaking for a personal one. When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, my father had a difficult time handling it. The way he dealt with it was by continuing to do all the routine things of his life and pretend that our lives weren't about to head over a cliff into the unknown. At the time I was frustrated with him because I didn't understand why he wasn't by her side every second of the day. It wasn't until later that I realized that doing the normal things of his life and not discussing the inevitable was the only way he knew to deal with it.

So, maybe that's what's happening to John Edwards right now. Maybe he is wanting to give the doctors and medicine a chance to help his wife. Maybe his determination to continue this race is his dedication to her and to their ideals. I just hope when she really needs him, he will give her all his attention and to hell with politics.

UPDATE: Captain Ed points out that Elizabeth was quite invested in this campaign and that that could be her husband's motivation for continuing. It is a tough call to make, but my prayers and sympathies are with all of them.