Elizabeth Edwards in May, 2010
  • Lisa Pepin/The Arts Center of Carrboro
  • Elizabeth Edwards in May, 2010

We see the very sad news that Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Sen. John Edwards, died today. She was 61. She was reported yesterday to be gravely ill, but her passing came more quickly than was anticipated.

Samiha Khanna wrote about Mrs. Edwards in May when she took a turn at The Monti, the story-telling event in Carrboro. It’s a nice piece about narratives and what we choose to remember or forget. That night, Mrs. Edwards remembered her parents and her father’s fidelity. Now, we remember hers. [For other stories in the Indy archives, look here.]

This evening, President Obama saluted her fortitude and grace:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. This afternoon I spoke to Cate Edwards and John Edwards, and offered our family’s condolences. I came to know and admire Elizabeth over the course of the presidential campaign. She was a tenacious advocate for fixing our health care system and fighting poverty, and our country has benefited from the voice she gave to the cause of building a society that lifts up all those left behind.

In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain. Many others would have turned inward; many others in the face of such adversity would have given up. But through all that she endured, Elizabeth revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

In Raleigh, Gov. Bev Perdue issued the following statement:

“I was saddened to learn of the death of Elizabeth Edwards. North Carolina has lost one of our smartest and most resilient women. My heart goes out to her family.”

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s statement:

“I am very saddened to hear about Elizabeth Edwards’ death. She was a dedicated mother and a passionate advocate for cancer research and health care causes. During her remarkable life, Elizabeth always carried herself with dignity. She used her battle with breast cancer to raise cancer awareness and create change. She faced her battle in the public eye, and I very much admired her strength and courage.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this extremely difficult time.”

Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer as the 2004 presidential campaign was drawing to a close. John Edwards was Democratic nominee John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate that year. No one supported John’s political aspirations more strongly than Elizabeth, and when he announced in 2007 that he was running for president a second time, it was with her full and enthusiastic support. Her cancer, at that point, was in remission. Even when it returned, however, and her doctors told her that the disease was spreading and incurable, she and John determined together that he should remain in the race, and she emerged in her own right as a fierce advocate for universal health insurance.

John’s campaign ended after the early 2008 primaries, and thereafter it was revealed that he’d had an affair with a campaign staffer and had fathered a child with her. Elizabeth and John were later separated, but he was at her side yesterday and today along with their three children. Their first son, Wade, was killed in a car crash at age 16.

Light a candle for them both and remember the good times when John stood for a better world and Elizabeth stood with him. To that end, take a look at the 9-picture slideshow posted now at Talking Points Memo that starts with their wedding day.