In the end, Elizabeth Edwards was about grace.
A mere day after going public with the gravity of her condition, Elizabeth Anania Edwards died of cancer at 61, in her home, surrounded by her family. A friend who described the death as "very peaceful" told the media: "Elizabeth did not want people to say she lost her battle with cancer. The battle was about living a good life and that she won."
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. The statement she issued on her Facebook page has been much-quoted since Monday, but makes for such perfect last public words that we're going to share them again.
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. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.
But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. 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.
"Grace" is the word. And she'll be long remembered for it.
Elizabeth Edwards Dies Of Cancer At 61 [MSNBC]
A Political Life Filled With Cruel Reversals [New York Times]
Lessons From Elizabeth Edwards [New York Times]
Elizabeth Edwards' Legacy: Toughness Amid Tragedy [Fox]
Elizabeth Edwards, 61, Dies After Six-Year Battle with Breast Cancer [ABC]