My first wife, Edna, succumbed to ovarian cancer on Sunday, July 4th, 2010. I find that the pain is now a memory, but my love and respect for her is still fresh, even though I am very happily remarried.
Edna lived an amazing life. Edna was a great daughter, wife, mother, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend; she was the kind of person that stands by you when you need somebody to be there. Edna had a big, loving and giving heart. It was the last thing to stop when she finally rested.
Edna’s death was not sudden. I remember when I heard the news about her cancer I did not want to believe it. Edna was too young. I have slowly realized that Edna indeed lived her life wonderfully. In all her years of battling this terrible disease she never stopped living her life or caring for others. She was a very spiritual person whose faith in God was unshakable. She not only read the word and spoke the word of God but she lived it. She never tired of providing food, necessaries, advice, love or guidance to anyone who needed it, even though she was still battling her own illness.
Through it all Edna continued to educate herself and graduated with honors from college. She continued to write poetry and music, play the guitar, sing, and paint. Then, a year ago, she decided to plot a once in a lifetime month long trip around the U.S. which she embarked on with her beloved husband and son. This was to be her last trip. But thanks to the thousands of photos, her last adventure will never be forgotten. Those pictures are presently being enjoyed by her family and friends. But, we all have our snapshots of Edna in our hearts and memories; as long as we remember her, she lives.
On that trip, they were camping on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. She wanted to share with strangers some Christian testimony so she cooked a gourmet meal on a Coleman stove for about 20 people who were also camping there. Later they watched a beautiful sunset and fireworks. That week she ended up in the hospital for a few days in Pennsylvania but asked the doctor to release her so she could continue on their trip. Edna was not the kind of person who wanted to sit and wait for death. She wanted to live and let death catch up to her. That is the type of person she was, she loved to gather people around her, enjoy food, music, conversation and have a good time even though it could cost her healthwise later. People were her fuel; she gathered energy from being with a group of people. She was like a magnet drawing people to her.
Her last wishes were to be able to hear the sounds of a party going on, children laughing, running and all having a good time and she almost accomplished it. Edna went to heaven on July 4th when the whole country was having a party. All night long the sight and sounds of fireworks were in the air. How fitting for someone who loved to celebrate life. From this year forward, we her friends and loved ones will think of July 4th as Ednapendence Day and celebrate her memory.
Edna was well-loved; she had done so many things on earth and I’m sure she’ll do much more in heaven. I will forever be grateful to have known Edna. I will forever be grateful that Edna was my friend. All the memories we shared I will forever cherish and remember. Edna will forever live in our hearts… In my heart.
She wrote this poem ten years earlier.
It Could Have Been You
It could have been you that felt the cold, numb death at your lips.
The shock of the unknown, the unsettling tears dripping from your eyes not knowing what to do or how to react after the solemn news; “You have cancer”.
It could have been you that spent countless hours thinking about how you will leave this earth.
The memorial service and whom you should leave responsible to attend to all or nothing you have left behind.
Where should this body lay come that day once and for all?
It could have been you that lost all hope in finding hope again to help carry such a heavy burden.
The struggle to see the good in this wretched disease rather than the scary shadow enveloping so much fear and uncertainty.
It could have been you that lost all desire but the will to want a cure.
Seeking only meditation with God and cleansing of the heart and spirit, come whatever may come, wanting only peace and tranquility.
It could have been you who understood chemo would give you the extended days, weeks, maybe years; no one knows.
That this poison-medicine would take away everything but your will to go on. That it gives you no guarantees, no promises, yet offers no choices.
It could have been you that would take the crash course on cancer only to find out advancement is so far behind.
That the shock when realizing how many people suffer every day only brings you to tears while wishing you could find a cure for all illness.
It could have been you that prayed for many cancer stricken souls sympathizing in emotional pain and understanding their fear and struggle.
That this new union of friends and strangers all share one common ground, supporting each other, hoping that the other fights and succeeds with the uncertain battle.
But, it was me. It was me who learned all these things.
That all that has happened was part of my destiny. That while walking this journey, God has taught me strength, hope, and a deeper love for all mankind, understanding I am but a grain of sand among many of God’s beautiful people.
It was me who pleaded, asking God to give me more love for others rather than myself.
That in learning to intercede for others, God would bless me in His own special way.
It was me who felt blessed with all the special people coming to my side.
That all the notes, phone calls, flowers, hugs, books, and every gesture imaginable was shared.
It was me who felt lucky to be among God’s angels, to be the one honored with so many smiles and tenderness.
That all my bad days filled with pain, frustration, and tiredness were compensated by as many good days surrounded by compassionate and loving moments.
It could have been you, but I accept that it was me.
That I would have never known the magnitude of God’s love and mercy shared through His people.
That experiencing these blessings has been worth more than all the treasures this world could hold.
It could have been you, but in living all these things, I accept it was me.
copyright Edna R. Lopez 4/12/2000