Elizabeth Edwards Dies at 61
We have just learned that Elizabeth Edwards is no longer with us. She was a courageous woman who embodied grace, charm, and authenticity. We lost a good soul today.
The family asked that donations be made to the Wade Edwards Foundation which benefits the Wade Edwards Learning Lab. Wade was the Edwards’ 16 yr old son who died in a car accident in 1996.
This piece below was written by Linda Milazzo in March of 2007. It is republished today because Linda did a beautiful job expressing how so many of us feel. Our thoughts are with the Edwards family.
I love Elizabeth Edwards. Which is odd, since I’ve never met her.
When it comes to celebrity, I’m not much impressed. In fact, I find the whole concept of idolization abhorrent. More like insane. But when it comes to Elizabeth Edwards, I’ll relinquish a bit of my ‘sanity’ and let awe take command over me.
Elizabeth is an anomaly. She’s that rare public person who can take center stage and yet remain REAL. She’s unaffected by fame. Impervious to admiration. Strong in the face of catastrophe and humble in the face of success.
Not long ago I watched an event on C-SPAN where Elizabeth Edwards discussed her book, “Saving Graces.” Elizabeth gave a detailed account of her recovery from grieving the death of her teenage son, Wade. She shed no tears, but the depth of her pain was palpable. She paid minor attention to despair and major attention to healing. Not as a preacher. Or authority. But as a vessel of resolve and understanding. She freed the audience from fear of discussing her child by explaining how his essence is honored whenever they mention his name. She explained that avoiding discussing him was like erasing him and that he should never be erased. A simple lesson, but profound.
Elizabeth was neither morbid nor self-pitying. She was inspiring. She talked of the “grief” website she frequented and the anonymous chat friends with whom she battled back from devastation.
And she talked of her husband, John. How they survived the pain together and how strong their bond became. She talked of her recent bout with breast cancer and how John was there every step of the way. Not boastfully as some women might do. But humbly. She looked beyond her own comfort to focus on the many who faced illnesses alone. Those who entered the halls of treatment with no one and struggled back to their homes weakened by chemo and radiation. This struck her so deeply that she implored her audience to enfold those in need and offer them comfort to make it through.
Bottom line, I am a John Edwards supporter. I like his straightforwardness and candor. I appreciate his working class, blue collar roots. His support for unions. His goal to uplift the low income and middle class. His desire to stop the War On Iraq and bring our troops back home. His solid healthcare plan. His aggressive stance on global warming. His commitment to negotiate with other nations. His plan to end Bush’s tax cuts. The integrity he showed during the ’04 race by NEVER parlaying the tragedy of his son for sentimental favor. I particularly like how his deep understanding of the loss of a child makes him less likely to sacrifice the child of another. I respect his deep love for his children and his deep love for his wife.
My mention of John and Elizabeth Edwards in a previous article was posted on his campaign blog, for which I was pleased. Interestingly the statement that posted was more about Elizabeth than John. It read, “Along with John, give America a truly great woman for the White House. Give us his wonderful wife Elizabeth Edwards who will instill in the White House the humanity and warmth it has lacked for so long. The Edwards are a masterful couple. They’ve weathered unfathomable personal tragedy with dignity, humanity and grace. Characteristics America sorely needs to restore its image at home and abroad.”
I believed that then and I believe it now.
The last great lady to occupy the White House was another Elizabeth. An Elizabeth who preferred the name Betty. Betty Ford. The valiant First Lady who battled health issues and addiction, then served as an example for us all. Since Mrs. Ford, we’ve had a Nasty Bush and a Barbie Bush. We’ve had Roselyn Carter who worked admirably in the field of Mental Health. Nancy Reagan whose “Just Say No” (to drugs) campaign was a dismal failure. And Hillary, whose primary dilemma was mastering her first-mate persona.
The truth is, the American Presidency going back to the days of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, has been a partnership between husband and wife. First Ladies are monumentally important. Even with Nancy Pelosi being second in line to the President, unless a woman President is elected in 2008, the most powerful woman in America will still be the First Lady.
With all my heart I want Elizabeth Edwards to be our First Lady. What a White House she would have. The first Italian American First Lady. (Yes, she really is Italian). An accomplished attorney. A dedicated wife. A devoted mother who’d work tirelessly to prevent others from losing a child and enduring the pain she’s gone through. A genuine, warm and gracious woman who would restore honor, gentility and humanity to the leadership of this nation which it desperately needs.
I don’t know what lies ahead for Elizabeth. What I do know is that millions are pulling for her. Millions believe in her. And millions believe in her husband, John, too.
Buona fortuna. I wish them both the best!