Elizabeth Edwards remembered as backbone of her family

Dec 12, 2010 at 12:26 p.m. ET

Elizabeth Edwards was remembered as a fighter and protector during her memorial.

John Edwards and his children attend Elizabeth Edward's funeral

Elizabeth Edwards was given her rightful tribute at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.

An estimated 1,100 people from all walks of life showed up outside the church to pay tribute to a woman who loved her family with an intense fire that didn't die with her December 7 passing.

It could still be felt in those that loved her.

At one point, former United States Senator John Edwards comforted his daughter Emma Claire, 12, asking her, "You okay?" The child could only look on and nod her head yes, as guests moved inside the church to honor her 61-year-old mother, who died of breast cancer.

Elizabeth Edwards was remembered as an intelligent and vocal woman who loved "Boggle" and was devoted to her family.

"She would do anything in the world to protect all of us, no matter what the personal cost was to her," her daughter Catherine Edwards, 28, told mourners. Catherine Edwards shared a letter Elizabeth Edwards had been creating for years to help her children move on in the wake of her death.

"You are complete joy to me," Elizabeth Edwards penned. "I hope you will always know that. Wherever I am, wherever you are, I have my arms wrapped around you."

Elizabeth Edwards remembered

Elizabeth Edwards was buried next to her son, Wade, whom she shared with John Edwards. Wade's own life was cut short when he was killed in a 1996 car accident at just 16 years old. Both he and his mother's funerals were held at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

Much like her life, Elizabeth Edwards' funeral brought on controversy.

A handful of people from an anti-gay religious group belonging to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, held signs with messages that could only be classified as completely inappropriate. The protesters were quarantined two blocks from the church and an estimated 300 people showed up to fight off the hate with their own signs of warmth displaying "Love" and "Hero."

Elizabeth Edwards learned she had cancer in 2004 but believed she had beaten it. The Edwards family announced that the cancer had returned in 2007 -- while she was dealing with John Edwards' admission that he fathered a child with a campaign staff member, Rielle Hunter.

Despite divorce proceedings, John Edwards was there for Elizabeth during the final days of her life.

In his eulogy, Elizabeth Edwards' friend, Glenn Bergenfield, marked her as "relentless and energetic." He added, "As the week has worn on I have begun to think she saw the sad and beautiful metaphor: We must go on ourselves." Assuring her younger children Emma Claire and Jack he said, "Your mom has Christmas covered this year. Probably a few years beyond, too. No worries there."

Elizabeth Edwards was a woman of patience and pride, family and love, and her life should be celebrated as such.