In the simplest of statements, Elizabeth Edwards was the epitome of grace and dignity, and I'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree. I knew about her cancer diagnosis and about her estranged husbands infidelity, about the death of her teenage son in 1996 and the birth of her husband's daughter recently, a result of the affair. While she had every reason to, she never played the victim. Instead, she used her circumstances to find inner strength and the way in which she handled them truly gave her distinction.
I had never met Ms. Edwards, but I have watched people go through challenging times in the public eye. There's something liberating about sharing your struggles in a public forum, until the criticism and opinions of others weigh in. You hear the negativity and the untrue rumors. You read the speculation and the doubt. But at the end of the day, she is a person just like the rest of us, with the same feelings and human emotions. For every brave face that is shown in an on-camera interview, there are millions of tears shed behind closed doors.
The rumors that she was tough and demanding when the cameras were off is irrelevant. Her love and respect for life and what it offers all of us was immeasurable; her willingness to open her arms to a child that was her husbands, but not hers; conceiving more children, while making daily visits to her deceased son's grave and lifting her husband up and showing support for his campaign aspirations while she was fighting a daily battle called cancer says more about her character than those who accused her of being mercurial.
At the end of the day, we're all human. We all make mistakes and we all have suffered at one point in our lives. It's what you do with those challenges that defines your character. Are you willing to get back up, stand tall and admit your wrongs? And on the flip side, are you able to forgive? The passing of Ms. Edwards at 61 years young shows how precious and fragile life is and how it's important to live each day to the fullest, not taking it for granted.
In closing, I wanted to share a quote posted on her Facebook account on Monday. "The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."