Elizabeth Edwards’ Legacy

Elizabeth Edwards inspired others. There’s no question about that. In the wake of her death yesterday after a six-year battle with cancer, after all the stories about the struggles she faced in life have been told and retold, we’re left with the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards. It is one of inspiration, we believe.

In her life, lived very publicly, she had to endure the death of a child — her first-born, Wade, at 16, as a result of an auto accident. That alone is perhaps the most crushing blow anyone must endure in life. But that wasn’t the end of the challenges that came her way. She had to battle breast cancer, a battle she ultimately lost on Dec. 7, 2010. And she had to endure the enormous publicity and public embarrassment surrounding the news of her husband’s infidelity and the fact that he fathered a child with his mistress.

“She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and to those who felt they knew her,” said Vice President Joe Biden. And as the first line in a Palm Beach Post health section story notes that she was “Inspirational to the end.”

Elizabeth Edwards also has been described as steely and strong, ambitious and determined — interesting words; words that could take on a positive or negative connotation depending on the context. She was demeaned in the book, “Game Change,” written about the 2008 presidential campaign, as being less than pleasurable to deal with. But think about all that. Put yourself in her shoes for just a moment if you can. Think about the pain of losing a child; think about having to cope with a deadly disease on a daily basis; think about having the infidelity of your spouse revealed on one of the most public of stages. How would you behave? How would you react? How would you carry all that day after day? Any one of those three things impacting your life would be enough to send many to bed in a dark room where they would remain for months. Think about dealing with all three of those things.

Elizabeth Edwards kept going until she could continue no longer, in spite of all the pain, heartache and suffering she lived through. The line, “Inspirational to the end,” is an appropriate one.

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