There’s something so profoundly sad about the death of Elizabeth Edwards, someone I did not know, but whose loss just about every American is feeling today.
Maybe it’s because this is not just the loss of a public figure. It’s the tragic end of a long period of struggle for a woman whose life was laid open for media consumption, whose character was questioned in a best selling book, whose marriage fell apart in the midst of her battle with cancer, and whose goals for public service and advocacy (on healthcare, no less) never quite came to pass; but who first and foremost was somebody’s mom. For her three children — two very young, that’s all that matters. If you’ve ever lost a mother, in this way, and I have, then you have some idea of how they feel, though really, no one ever can.
I honestly cannot even begin to imagine what John Edwards is feeling tonight. I probably wouldn’t want to — or what his “friend” from the campaign feels about the part she played in the last act of Elizabeth Edwards’ life. Fate can be cruel, but no more cruel than conscience.
Hopefully, Mrs. Edwards’ life will be a testimony to grace at the end, to dignity in the face of horrific public scrutiny, and to the unbelievable fact that not even all the money you could ever spend in a lifetime can beat a six letter word. Cancer wins again. Or not. Here are Mrs. Edwards’ final public comments, after she stopped the treatments that were no longer effective.
Writing on her Facebook page that “the days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered,” Edwards expressed gratitude for the love and support she’s received during her years in the public eye.
“You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope,” she wrote. “These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined… It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.”
And that, my friends, is an effective, affecting, use of Facebook. Others should take note.
Good night then, Elizabeth. And Godspeed to your kids, family and friends.
President Obama’s statement on the passing of Elizabeth Edwards
More reactions, including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton