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Elizabeth's Lesson: Tell Your Kids Now

I never met Elizabeth Edwards, but my heart grieved for her when I first heard she had cancer and again when the news broke about her husband’s affair.

And now, I am grieving for her children, who will spend this season grieving the loss of their mother.

As a mother, I couldn’t help but think that while she undoubtedly knew her life was coming to an end, no amount of time would have been enough time to prepare to leave her children to face the world without her.

I’m sure she lost sleep worrying and wondering.

I can’t help but think about what I’d want to say to my own little one if I knew I was going to die.  I wonder if my husband, my family and the people closest to her would know how I’d want her to be raised or the kind of woman I’d want her to become.

There’s so much I want her to know and do, and it’s human nature to expect to be here to tell her what she needs to know at the appropriate times in her life.  But mortality puts the “if” in life.

There are some things you just have to learn from your mother. You know, things that no one else has the guts or the love or the foresight to tell you.  The things that prompt people to shake their heads and say, “Didn’t you mother teach you that?”

And so, in honor of Elizabeth Edwards, I wrote this list of 10 things I want my daughter to know if I should die before I can tell her myself. 

1.. God is real. Love him and serve him with all your heart. And keep his greatest commandment: Love one another.

2.    The Devil is real. And he doesn’t wear a red suit and carry a pitchfork. Sometimes he looks like a preacher, sometimes he looks like a nice, old lady. In more ways that one, the “devil” is in the details. Keep your eyes open and your knees bent.

3.      Life is short, so live it to the fullest. Everyday could be your last, or it could be the end or the beginning of a new phase of your life. Make your seconds, minutes and hours count.

4.       Travel the world. Sometimes you have to see the world to change it.

5. 5. Change someone’s life, whether you change it for a moment or a lifetime. It could be as simple as smiling at the person you pass on the sidewalk or as profound as developing a cure for cancer. You don’t matter until someone else matters to you.

 66. Protect children and honor the elderly. They are as close to God as you will get without dying.

7.  7. Read, read, read. The greatest secrets and mysteries on earth are hidden in books. Only smart people find them. You should especially read the Bible – it’s one of the oldest and most misquoted and misrepresented books ever.

8.  8. Beauty lies within. Outward beauty tickles the eyes and fades away;  inner beauty tugs the heart and leaves a legacy. Some of the most beautiful people in the world could never be supermodels, and some supermodels could never be the most beautiful people in the world.

9. 9. Your body is sacred. Treat it that way. And demand that men and boys do the same.

10. No man is perfect. But he can nearly be. Marry a man like your father, a man who loves God and who loves me and you more than he loves himself. A man who wants you to have the best and be the best. A man who is great without you but somehow better because he has you. A man after God’s own heart.