In 2008, while my wife was falling in love with Barack Obama and what she thought he represented, I was thinking about campaigning for John Edwards. He was the only candidate talking about the vast expanse between the wealthy and the poor and had a plan to bridge the gap. It was during that time that Elizabeth Edwardsa came to Iowa to promote her book, "Saving Graces" and I decided based on meeting her, that if she thought her husband would make a good president, so could I. Like many people, I lived to regret this decision, but it was because of him, not her.
I remember that she had chemotherapy the day before and, yet there she was holding court for maybe a hundred or 150 people in the Buchanan Hall at The University of Iowa. She read a bit of the book that had to do with her son Wade, who she referred to in the present tense. And she moved people, not just to read her book, but to share their stories.
Elizabeth Edwards struck me as a strong, deep thinking, good-hearted person who had been dealt an incredibly bad hand. And yet there was nothing about her that said, "feel sorry for me." On the contrary there was a resolve in her that said "as long as I'm here, I'm going to make sure my family is okay and try to make my country a better place too."
The tragedy and redemption of her story lies in the knowledge that she lived to see her marriage crumble, but long enough to make sure that her young children would know their mother past their precognitive years and can choose to carry on her legacy in their own way when they grow up. She was there to be sure that her eldest daughter Cate would become a strong woman in her own right.
How many of us wouldn't want to be around for their children as long as possible? The difference for Elizabeth Edwards was she knew she wouldn't be and did the most with the time she had to spend with them, to write books, and to fight.
I'm sure that she was far from perfect, who is? But faced with the untenable knowledge that she would not live to see her progeny grown, she gave of herself like few others likely could. I am fortunate to have spent a few minutes with her. How many people have had the impact on others in the way that she did? Not many.