It was hard news for a lot of BlogHers to learn that Elizabeth Edwards died today of cancer at 61, just one day after announcing on Facebook that she was discontinuing medical treatment after a long battle with the illness.
An accomplished lawyer, author, and the wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards spoke at BlogHer '07 in Chicago, where she answered bloggers' questions, and a lot of us got to meet her.
Like Jen Lemen, who blogged so passionately about talking to Edwards about her cancer at BlogHer 2007 that it made a lot of us in the office tear up this morning:
She turned to me with so much fire in her blue eyes, so much strength, so much grace. “You know John and I lost a child?” I nod, remembering that story and how that grief must have fueled their resolve to have more children, so many years later. “We know how important it is to not live our lives with regret.” She put her hands on my shoulders, the way your mother does when you need to hear her clearly, when she needs to speak directly to your heart. She tells me about how they keep the children close to them, the way she’s homeschooling them with the help of another teacher, how this is so much the life they are choosing, eyes wide open.
She brushed away my unexpected tears (how can you not cry about things like this?) and tells me, blue eyes on fire, “This is what I want, what we want. ” And I know in my soul it is a thousand percent true. “Now do you feel better?” she said, smiling.
And ClizBiz, who remembers Edwards' speech:
I loved Lisa's first question after all the greetings, pleasantries and thanks-for-comings: "So, um, why are you here?" EE was taken aback and when she began to speak, it quickly became clear that -- GASP! -- she was one of us.
Evidently, EE knew her tech stuff and had been an early adapter in the mid-90s. She discussed how the online community helped her deal with her grief after the sudden death of her son, Wade. She developed online relationships that continue to this day, most with people she has never met. She blogs, when time permits, on her husband's campaign site and keeps her RSS feeds fully stocked. Oh yeah, then there's the whole raising-three-children-while-fighting-cancer thing.
Like any public figure, Edwards saw some criticism of her choices, especially about how she reacted publicly when her husband's extramarital affair came to light in 2008. But after a long-standing conversation with women who blog, Edwards WAS one of us. Even when we disagreed with her, we phrased it like Morra Aarons Mele: "I love Elizabeth Edwards, and I'm mad at her."
Video: Elizabeth Edwards at BlogHer
Obituaries: Remembering Elizabeth Edwards
Our thoughts are with the Edwards family today.
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