Many around the country are in mourning at the news of Elizabeth Edwards’s death from cancer yesterday. The following are some of the more moving tributes:
That’s who she was — no pretense, no drama, no fuss. It never mattered to Elizabeth if news cameras were rolling or if the hallway was empty, she was going to have meaningful moments with the people who entered her life. She simply cared — a sentiment that is far too often expressed, but not present in American politics.
I’ll miss you, Elizabeth, and I’ll keep the promises we last discussed. Above all else, I’ll keep believing.
In the last few years, Edwards became someone much more than a successful businesswoman and mother: she was a model of dignity and optimism. The death of her son Wade, her six-year battle with cancer and, later, the revelations of her husband’s affair and child with Rielle Hunter — to say nothing of scurrilous “tell-alls” — all played out in the public eye. It would have been enough to send most people scrambling for cover. Instead, Edwards rallied and used the lessons she learned to inspire others. Her books Saving Graces and Resilience transformed first unimaginable tragedy and then, potential humiliation, into statements of dignity and, yes, resilience. And the fortitude which she brought to her illness was a final act of inspiration.
Mary Elizabeth Williams, at Salon:
Elizabeth Edwards has lived a life of pain and loss and betrayal — and through those things she always found the gifts of kindness and happiness. It’s in the hardest experiences in our lives that we frequently find out how much we’re loved, and exactly what we’re made of. They give us moments of unsurpassed joy, and the deepest of appreciation for the spectacular gift of every day. For many of us, life is not a battlefield. It’s a celebration. And with her poise, wisdom, and, to use her own incredibly apt word, resilience, Elizabeth Edwards continues to prove that you don’t have to be a fighter to be every inch a victor.
While I never met Elizabeth Edwards in person (the line was so long at BlogHer ‘07, I never made it to the front), I did have a chance to interview her by telephone shortly after that. I’ve long been an admirer, even when those guys who claim to be journalists who wrote Game Change smeared her as a political she-devil and others mocked and criticized her for the life choices she made.
But I admired her for the choices — even the ones that I might not have made if I had been in her shoes — because she was honest about them. Plus she was one outspoken, warm, intelligent and politically savvy gal.
We all knew that she would not, in the end, be able to vanquish the breast cancer that had taken over her body, but I think we all hoped she would somehow pull it off, in the same way she pulled off her late in life second motherhood. Because she was an amazingly strong voice for the things she believed in. And when she believed in something, she didn’t back down — whether it was championing health care for everyone or, yes, standing by her man even if he didn’t deserve it.
Connie Schultz, at Slate:
Her time has now run out. Over the course of her life, she was many things to many people. She was a wife and a campaigner, yes, but also a daughter and a lawyer and, above all, a mother. Just that and all that. A mother who did everything she could to show Cate, Emma Claire, and Jack how to live without her.
Hours after Elizabeth’s death, NBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell cut off Chris Matthews’ rhapsodic soliloquy on the once promising political career of John Edwards.
“It’s not about him today,” O’Donnell said, her face grim. “It’s not about him today.”
Jen Lemen, at Blogher:
She turned to me with so much fire in her blue eyes, so much strength, so much grace. “You know John and I lost a child?” I nod, remembering that story and how that grief must have fueled their resolve to have more children, so many years later. “We know how important it is to not live our lives with regret.” She put her hands on my shoulders, the way your mother does when you need to hear her clearly, when she needs to speak directly to your heart. She tells me about how they keep the children close to them, the way she’s homeschooling them with the help of another teacher, how this is so much the life they are choosing, eyes wide open.
She brushed away my unexpected tears (how can you not cry about things like this?) and tells me, blue eyes on fire, “This is what I want, what we want. ” And I know in my soul it is a thousand percent true. “Now do you feel better?” she said, smiling.
And finally, Mom 101:
In 2008 I wrote a silly post at Momocrats about political birth announcements. She left a comment. I thought it would be nice if it lived here too.
When I was pregnant with our first child, my sister was also pregnant. We told our parents at Christmas when we gave each other baby presents. My sister gave me one of the those stuffed animal mobiles, blue gingham elephants. Our 90 year old Southern grandmother took one look at the present and, without missing a beat, said, “You couldn’t find donkeys?” She may have too obsessed with politics as the earlier commenter said, but I sure miss her spirit.
For her strength, her passion, and her sense of humor, she will be missed by many.
Photo credit: wikimedia commons
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