I've gone back and forth on this one but I think you are right. The joy that Bella feels with Edward is absolutely greater, more intense, more worth sacrificing things for than any other joy, or life, she could have. It's not just an addiction, an obsession, flying too close to the sun, something that overshadows what might otherwise have been. It is a genuine gift.Lindsay wrote:And I think he must realize that despite his own personal self hatred, he has given Bella new joy and meaning in her life, too. He just wishes she didn't have to sacrifice so much for him.
I think that has to be right, or Stephenie couldn't have written the story the way she has (being who she is). And yes, I think Edward is groping towards recognizing that, in part because it not only means accepting himself (which he obviously has trouble doing) but also respecting Bella's choices and autonomy and self-awareness. A respect she has gone a long way towards earning by the end of Eclipse (though by some pretty heedless and self-indulgent paths).
Though I have to also agree, he won't really be certain for a long time. A couple of centuries of bliss ought to make up his mind. And surely Stephenie won't let Bella become a vampire without having made it a little easier for her. That blood aversion, for example: that could help, couldn't it? And you know, I wouldn't put it past Angela to figure out about Edward before they get married. She's a very perceptive girl, in her quiet way. (In fact, wouldn't it be funny if she turned out to have guessed quite some time ago, but tactfully not mentioned it?). In which case, Bella can stay in touch with her (once she is a settled, matronly vegetarian vamp).
As for when Edward became serious enough about Bella to realize he couldn't live without her...that's a very good question. Because you're right, it's not quite the terms he was thinking in when he took her to the Meadow. I think my answer would be that it's the revelation he comes to in the Meadow, that he needs Bella even more desperately than he craves her blood, which cements for him the knowledge that he couldn't live without her. It's sort of the first incarnation of what happens to him at the end of NM, when the pain of living through believing her dead gives him an almost Pavlovian aversion to the thought of biting her -- like the cat who jumps on the hot stove, he now instinctively shies away from that pain. In the Meadow, the discovery that he cannot live without her goes hand in hand with the realization that is strong enough to be with her without killing her -- and this is not accident: it is the love which makes resisting her blood possible. I'm not putting this clearly, am I? Part One (TW): his love for Bella makes the possibility of not killing her a reality. Part Two (NM) his love for Bella makes the impossibility of killing her a reality. argh. I'm not actually sure about this, since in TW he talks about it being an impossibility too, but I'm giving up for now...