My heart goes out to the family of Elizabeth Edwards, who succumbed today to breast cancer after a six-year battle. Her life seemed both blessed and cursed: she lost her 16-year-old son to a car crash in 1996, but rallied to have two more children; she seemed to share an equal partnership with a handsome, ambitious and successful man, but he turned out to be a philanderer and a liar. The final chapter of her life seemed so tough, between grueling political campaigns, embarrassing marital scandals, and the return of her cancer in 2007. I hope Ms. Edwards’ last days brought her peace and quality time with her children.
On Monday, Edwards posted the following statement on her Facebook page: “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 towards everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.”
Also on Monday, a family friend leaked to the media that doctors had told Edwards her cancer had spread to her liver, and that “further treatment would be unproductive.” The friend suggested that she had but weeks or months to live, but the precious time Edwards had left proved to be far shorter.
President Obama offered the following statement: “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. This afternoon I spoke to Cate Edwards and John Edwards, and offered our family’s condolences. I came to know and admire Elizabeth over the course of the presidential campaign. She was a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty, and our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.
In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”