Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010

Elizabeth Edwards, a lawyer, author, and the wife of former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, died Tuesday morning of breast cancer. She was 61. On Monday, Edwards posted a message to friends on Facebook announcing that the cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2004, had spread to her liver, three years after announcing, in the midst of her husband’s second bid for the presidency, that the cancer had spread to her bones and lungs.

Edwards’ story is one of the more tragic in modern politics, but also, thanks in no part to her husband, one of the more inspirational. It was her husband who was the politician, but Edwards pulled much of the weight. During his campaigns she acted as a self-described “anti-Barbie” who opened up to the public about her struggle with cancer (and, eventually, about her husband’s extramarital affair), and was an instrumental adviser and organizing force on the campaign trail.

Edwards found out about her husband’s affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, with whom he also had a child, about a year and a half before he finally confessed to the affair on national television. Having told her the affair was only a one-night stand, Edwards later learned that it very much wasn't, and revealed in her second book that after learning the extent of it, she had advised him to quit the presidential race. When he refused, she agreed to protect his reputation and keep the affair secret. The couple finally separated in early 2010, but they never divorced.

Writing and talking so candidly about her life, which included not only her husband’s philandering, but the staggering trauma of losing her first child, Wade, in a car accident when he was a junior in high school, Edwards opened herself up to become a mentor to millions of people she never met, in particular people living with cancer. We know an alarming amount about this woman because she wanted us to—even her Facebook message to friends was published across the media on Monday. But it only ever became too much because it was inextricably tied to the mired and clichéd political career she supported for so long. Too long, you might say, especially now.

Photo via Crown Publishing Group

11 Comments / Post A Comment


The moral of the story: "Too long, you might say, especially now."


RIP, good lady. Because although I never knew anything about you, I am outwardly overwrought at your death today. Sure, the only fact I am aware of is that your shitty husband cheated on you and you stuck with him. Sure people might interpret that as a desperate grasp at power sacrificing your own dignity in return for a chance at becoming First Lady. But that doesn't stop me from loudly proclaiming you the greatest woman since that chick who invented Spanx or something.

Because in this period of time, when we take to these internetz to loudly mourn people we don't know, I like to imagine myself as besties with the recently deceased. I like to imagine that E (that was my pet name for her that I invented during a long summer we spent in the bayou) and I used to go out to Sonic Drive In where I could get any Footlong Quarter Pound Coney and Tots for $3.99! Including the new Tex-Mex Footlong Quarter Pound Coney. A plumper, juicier hot dog topped off with warm chili, crunchy FRITOS® corn chips, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, sliced jalapeños and zesty Southwest chipotle sauce paired with Tots for only $3.99!

Then E and I go for a Mike's Hard Lemonade at Chili's and we'd just laugh and laugh about any old thing. Maybe we even played Finger Football at the bar with our bartender Enrique cheering us on. And as Elizabeth makes hand goalposts and I launch that little paper triangle right into her sensitive chemo-ridden cornea, she doesn't get mad.

She doesn't say anything really.

She just smiles and envelopes me with her celebrity thus making it my own. And I never mind the fact that in real life, if Elizabeth met me, she would have considered me just another little peon there to further boost her throne higher towards the sun and glory. And never mind that this woman would not have even bothered to piss on your elderly father if she encountered him on fire walking down a lonely sidewalk.


So I mourn you, Elizabeth. Today, I beat my chest at the heavens screaming your name in the streets. I plan to spend the day calling upon God to return his most precious angel to this cruel terra firma, but I do so only today. Because tomorrow you are dead to me and no longer a shiny object of morbidity reflecting my image back to the interwebing hoi polloi. Tomorrow I say "Fuck you Mrs. Edwards."

Tuna Suprise

Is this just your long way of saying that you've already pre-ordered the John & Rielle wedding china from the Frankline Mint?


@Tuna: I love you, Tuna.


I'm sorry Liz Colville. That was no reflection on your post but I am getting sick of every jackass on the internet acting like this woman ever did anything that remotely merited such a bullshit display of public mourning.


Way harsh, Tai.


Whatever. She's just a virgin who can't drive.


except play an indirect but possibly important role in the passage of health reform? http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/elizabeth_edwards_legacy.html

Liz Colville

that's big. thanks for sharing!

Jason Thaxter

Why the hate?

Elizabeth was clearly the brains of the operation, so yeah, since she was nearly Second Lady (hold the joke please), her passing is worth comment.

On top of that, given all the Boobies, Yay! Girl Power! approach that is virtually the public face of cancer awareness these days, she a) reminded us that people die of it, and b) died with dignity.

She could have gone out clawing and scratching like so many (largely due to family pressure), blowing $100,000.00 to live just a few more days in a barely conscious (at best) state hooked up to tons of tubes in an ICU, but she didn't.

I'd like to see more awareness of this issue.

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