"When a politician cheats, his betrayed wife often suffers in silence."
December 7, 2010 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Elizabeth Edwards has died of breast cancer. She was an attorney, author, and advocate for same-sex marriage rights.

She was also the estranged wife of former Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards. She left him after he admitted having fathered a child with another woman. Her story has been the subject of much discussion about politicians and fidelity.

Previously and previously.
posted by saturday_morning (162 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2010


I just read this morning that she had gone home to "rest." And now she is dead...
I can't even imagine.
posted by lauratheexplorer at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by tracknode at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2010


R.I.P.
posted by terrapin at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2010


She was classy even when the world around her wasn't.

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posted by hippybear at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2010 [58 favorites]


Oh, that was quicker than expected. She deserved so much better than she got.
posted by tommasz at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:06 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by BlahLaLa at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by brundlefly at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2010


Oh, sad news.

Especially for her kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by MrBobaFett at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by impishoptimist at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by raztaj at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Ber at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2010


So sad she leaves behind a couple of children.

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posted by Sailormom at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Kinbote at 3:09 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by crunchland at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by bakerina at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2010


. She deserved better.
posted by wuwei at 3:10 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by good day merlock at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by immlass at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by datarose at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Navelgazer at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2010


that woman showed a ton of strength. rest in peace.

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posted by msconduct at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 3:14 PM on December 7, 2010


Always seemed like a class act. RIP.
posted by Gilbert at 3:14 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by clavdivs at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by sonika at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Madamina at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2010


Very sad news. RIP.
posted by pised at 3:18 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by kmz at 3:18 PM on December 7, 2010


"there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing."
posted by arveale at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by fixedgear at 3:20 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by jim in austin at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by peeedro at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by tzikeh at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Faint of Butt at 3:25 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2010


She was a hell of a woman. I wish there were more people like her.

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posted by palomar at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by humanfont at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by strixus at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:30 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by oonh at 3:30 PM on December 7, 2010


She was classy even when the world around her wasn't.

Ain't that the truth. I remember hearing her talk at some campaign event and thinking that she would make the better candidate, by far.

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posted by rtha at 3:30 PM on December 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


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posted by hopeless romantique at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2010


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I don't think anyone expected it to happen so fast. The vulture media vans were in force in Chapel Hill today, I am sad for what her children are going through.

Oh, and arveale? You suck for posting that crap piece in an obit thread. You lose at metafilter.
posted by msali at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm always troubled when it's big news when a public figure has passed. She didn't really mean anything to most people. I joked about her husband. She may have even been a raging maniac. I don't know. I don't care. No one should, really. People die tragically all the time.

On the other hand ... she buried one son, and left three other children behind. Cate is 28, but Emma and Jack are not even in their teens. My empathy is for them, and these wacky feelings about public and private lives are what makes us human.

Safe passage, ma'am. My MeFi (.) is for your children and everyone else.

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posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


This hit me really hard, I've known too many good women felled by this terrible illness.

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posted by dbiedny at 3:36 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by General Malaise at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2010


“John has been pretty clear about it, that he is very conflicted,” she said. “He has a deeply held belief against any form of discrimination, but that’s up against his being raised in the 1950s in a rural southern town.”

No serious presidential candidate from either major political party has publicly supported gay marriage.

“John believes that couples in committed long-term relationships should enjoy the same rights, benefits and responsibilities regardless of whether they are straight couples or same-sex couples,” Edwards said earlier during her speech. “He supports civil unions.”


Good for her. And aside from his philandering, I had forgotten about his stance on SSM. That elevates him irreversibly to the status of spineless shitsack.
posted by docpops at 3:39 PM on December 7, 2010


Oh my god. I just heard yesterday. I'm so stupid. I didn't realize it would be so fast. I didn't put it all together at all.

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posted by anniecat at 3:40 PM on December 7, 2010


And yet the Dicks Cheney of the world just keep on ticking.


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posted by scratch at 3:41 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


s/dmsali/msali
posted by falameufilho at 3:43 PM on December 7, 2010


man, fuck cancer.
posted by elizardbits at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2010 [29 favorites]


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posted by keever at 3:45 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by pearlybob at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2010


I don't think anyone expected it to happen so fast.

I sure didn't. I was just reading late last night/early this morning the announcement that further treatment had been deemed "unproductive," and I was thinking, "Wow, that's a crummy thing to say to someone who's fighting for her life, I wonder if this is going to restart the 'death panels' debate," but I had no idea she was actually so close to the end. I somehow told myself that she still had a couple of months left, maybe, for some reason.

I lost one of my sisters and one close friend to breast cancer, and another close friend went through chemo, radiation, and a lumpectomy last year. It's scary and sad.

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posted by Gator at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2010


I had the same thoughts about stopping the treatment and her death - she must have known it was going to happen fast. And I'm still pissed at John with regards to his behavior and hope he's happy with himself.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:49 PM on December 7, 2010


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(And it's likely she was close enough that the ubiquitous but never spoken of large dose of morphine was present.)
posted by effugas at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by hanoixan at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2010


My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer today.

Cancer fucking sucks.

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posted by elsietheeel at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yeah, this makes me sad, too (she used to be a customer in our store, I once exchanged cordial emails with her when she thought I was being unfair to her husband on television, my mom died of cancer, etc.), but she was also no saint, and it should be ok to link any subject's flaws in an obituary discussion at Metafilter.

Anyway, wuwei is absolutely right. She *definitely* deserved better.

*deep breath*




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posted by mediareport at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I do not know if an obituary thread lends itself (by definition) to a thoughtful analysis of the life of the so-recently deceased, warts and all, as they say. I also do not know if an uncritically hagiographic response is appropriate either, really. I do know there are now some children without a mother right now and I do suspect that said mother was not a very nice person, well, personally. That does not detract from the fundamentally human sadness of her passing. I suspect it is our reaction to our visceral animal fear of the prospect of our own demise that makes even well-intentioned framing or warts-and-all context-linking in the frame of an obit thread so off-putting to so many. In any event:

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posted by joe lisboa at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by treepour at 3:55 PM on December 7, 2010


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Elizabeth Edwards always struck me as a class act, even in the face of incredible douchebaggery - and not just her husband's douchebaggery, but politics as a whole.

When I read yesterday that she had stopped treatment, and the cancer was in her liver, I knew she didn't have long. I hope that her passing was as pain-free as possible, and that she really was surrounded by those she loved and those who loved her.

I am terribly saddened for her surviving children and all her loved ones. And breast cancer? Can just go fuck itself in the eye.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:57 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - folks, if you need to go to metatalk because you can't be a decent person in an obituary then you are welcome to go there, it's open 24/7. Mods are standing by to take your post.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I heard she'd stopped treatment, it was a flashback to the memory of my mom decided to stop treatment after her team of doctors admitted there was nothing else they could do. The failed t-cell transplant pretty much put the proverbial nail in her coffin.

And to those who feel a need to hammer on the dead, you might keep in mind that people who have lost someone to cancer or currently know someone with cancer or have cancer themselves, news like this can be very sad and difficult. So you're not just voicing your random remarks about a "media personality," you're affecting fellow Mefites.




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posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:00 PM on December 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


Oh, and arveale? You suck for posting that crap piece in an obit thread. You lose at metafilter.

sorry, just a quote from the linked NYTimes obit.

and btw:

Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


That's what metafilter is about.
posted by arveale at 4:02 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by SillyShepherd at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2010


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My sympathies to her children. I hope they can take comfort in the grace and empathy their mother displayed in all sorts of difficult situations. This terrible disease seems to strike a disproportionate number of the best women I've known.
posted by Morrigan at 4:06 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by hooha at 4:06 PM on December 7, 2010


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Can't say I was a fan but no one deserves to go through what she did, the horrific illness plus the other stuff with her husband and his mistress. My condolences go to her children.

Oh I wish someone would start a metatalk thread about this because I so want to say some stuff about the widower that just wouldn't be appropriate (or probably allowed) here.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:11 PM on December 7, 2010


Well, I thought she was lovely. Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

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posted by rain at 4:12 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by gingerest at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by homeless Visigoth at 4:21 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by liza at 4:21 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by airgirl at 4:23 PM on December 7, 2010


I think she showed far fewer warts than I would have after what she went through. RIP

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posted by dness2 at 4:24 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by ZeusHumms at 4:25 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by spinifex23 at 4:32 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by thivaia at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2010


[there's a metatalk thread. go there. quit insulting each other.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:35 PM on December 7, 2010


Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed the month I finished chemo. Our paths crossed at numerous events while her husband was campaigning and one rainy night, low turnout, we wound up in a corner at some gallery in Chelsea, knocking back white wine and yakking about the trauma of losing your hair. Her husband approached and she leaned in to me and said, "Thank god his hair's not in peril," dry as toast. I am so so sad that she's gone, but so so happy that I am still here. Thank you Elizabeth, for the laugh.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:35 PM on December 7, 2010 [80 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by iamkimiam at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2010


She said in her last interview that she wanted her children to have a father on whom they could rely and wanted Mr. Edwards to be around for them. Regardless of private foibles or idiosyncrasies, I'd agree with Obama that she showed fortitude and grace in her public persona. I hope that she has a safe and comforting journey to the next destination.
posted by blucevalo at 4:43 PM on December 7, 2010


Elizabeth Edwards was also a vocal supporter of health care reform.

I was actually being wheeled into my hospital room after a five-hour surgery for thyroid cancer (a lucky break compared to her form of cancer), when I heard the news on the TV that John Edwards had admitted to having an affair. My first croaky words to my boyfriend were "Christ, what an asshole."

Thanks, Ms. Edwards, for turning your own health nightmare into a platform to advocate for those less fortunate and without a voice.

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posted by kimdog at 4:44 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think she showed far fewer warts than I would have after what she went through.

No kidding. OMG SHE WAS THIS TERRIBLE MONSTER ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL- well, who wouldn't be? She was sick, she was dealing with her crazy-ass husband, with a political campaign following her around wherever she went. I would yell at people, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


Well, she was an interesting woman.

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posted by gaspode at 5:02 PM on December 7, 2010


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May she now get the peace she so deserves.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:06 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by whatideserve at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by lobstah at 5:56 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by MediaMer at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2010


Wow. That was a bit shocking.

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posted by Splunge at 6:03 PM on December 7, 2010


My mother, who passed away from cancer two years ago, admired Elizabeth Edwards for the dignity and honesty in which she dealt with her illness, all while in the public eye for both positive and negative. I wish I could have thanked her for being a model of strength for my mother. My thought are with her children and and other loved ones.

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posted by KingEdRa at 6:05 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Vhanudux at 6:06 PM on December 7, 2010


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This is hitting me particularly hard.

One of my bosses is a breast cancer survivor. Had a mastectomy last year. They told her they got it all, and was cleared to wait a year till her next checkup.

Last night, she had a seizure. She has two growths in her brain. Doctors are speculating...oh, I can't even say it.

Anyway, I always have had a lot of respect for Elizabeth. Between the death of her son and her husband's douchebaggery, a lesser woman would have crumbled. She didn't crumble.

So, as they say in the Air Force....A toast.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:08 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by quietalittlewild at 6:09 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by Zonker at 6:11 PM on December 7, 2010


If there is a better place after this life, I believe that she is there now.

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posted by andreaazure at 6:20 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by french films about trains at 6:30 PM on December 7, 2010


Not nearly enough class in this world. And now there less.

Had her husband been possessed of better character and/or common sense, had cancer given her a goddamned break, she would've made for an amazing First Lady. (I know, too many what-ifs in that statement, but there it is. The thought that keeps circling my head.)
posted by grabbingsand at 6:41 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by jessian at 7:17 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by beagle at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by tamitang at 7:28 PM on December 7, 2010


Showed an amazing amount of class and poise even while she must have been suffering so much inside. RIP.

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posted by supercapitalist at 7:32 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe she came off as unsympathetic in that article (and how the hell do I know, maybe it's all true) but that doesn't keep me from feeling sympathetic towards her.

I feel like there should be some kind of lifetime cap on suffering. Kid dead? Cancer? Cheating husband has a kid with somebody else? That'll more than do, thanks - here's your Get Out of Misery free card, and don't forget to visit the unicorn petting zoo on your way out....


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Those poor kids.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:47 PM on December 7, 2010 [16 favorites]


A woman of incredible dignity and grace. I was incredibly sad to hear this news.

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posted by arnicae at 7:49 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by alms at 7:53 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by synchronia at 8:13 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by buzzman at 8:19 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by pts at 8:20 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by dealing away at 8:38 PM on December 7, 2010


I have complicated feelings about Elizabeth Edwards. I very much admired her. (I still believe strongly in the message of their two campaigns, still sad/hurt/(duped?) that their message was lost in the drama.) I am so sorry that she did not had the long rich great life she could have lived.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:43 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Schwartz_User at 8:48 PM on December 7, 2010


She was a tough, graceful lady. I admired her greatly.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:56 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 9:15 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by shesdeadimalive at 9:18 PM on December 7, 2010


John Edwards turned out to be a real jackass, and I'm glad he never came anywhere near the Oval Office.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Edwards was a true gem, and I think she would have been an absolutely tremendous First Lady.

RIP.
posted by spirit72 at 9:31 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by robot at 9:42 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:08 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by sarcasticah at 10:11 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by IvoShandor at 10:29 PM on December 7, 2010


We've all lost someone to breast cancer.

She had a husband, and he did some things I guess, and had some political views or something. Yeah those views don't matter right now.

This is a time to remember someone who fought hard- harder than many Americans can even imagine- and finally lost, and surely clawing and biting to the last breath all the way down. Just like the person I lost did. Just like the person you lost did. Just like the person that guy at work lost did.

And right during the holidays too. I know it gets worse than this, but I'm having a hard time imagining that right now.
posted by hamida2242 at 10:53 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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Elizabeth Edwards on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me
posted by heathkit at 11:19 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by quazichimp at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by holympus at 11:57 PM on December 7, 2010


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posted by trip and a half at 12:07 AM on December 8, 2010


surely clawing and biting to the last breath all the way down.

I've lost friends and family to cancer (and not just breast cancer), I have friends and family right now with cancer, and I'm dealing with cancer myself for the second time in my life. And yes, treatment is long and difficult, and right now I intend to get through it and live long enough to eventually die of something else down the road.

But -- and I sincerely apologize if this comes off as a personal attack, because I honestly don't mean it that way -- I strongly object to this characterization of each of us as "clawing and biting to the last breath." The framing of cancer as The Ultimate Battle and all cancer patients as Noble Fighting Warriors may be very common, but it's fundamentally flawed and, in many ways, offensive (if unintentionally so).

First off, everyone is going to die of something, cancer or no cancer. (All Things Must Pass, and all that.) It's not like cancer patients are the only ones who have this tragic fight with mortality on our hands. But somehow we're the ones who've been drafted into a war en masse, in which our own bodies become the enemy, and dying is seen as "losing the battle." But this is not at all how I, or many others, see our illness and treatment.

The thing is, it is entirely possible to wish to live AND not be bound to face one's death with all this talk of clawing and fighting and biting to the last tortured, anguished breath. Indeed, it seems clear (from the fact that she chose to stop treatment, as well as from the words of her final statement) that at the end, Elizabeth Edwards faced her coming death with grace and equanimity. It sounds to me that, as much as she was able under the circumstances, she chose to have something we can barely bring ourselves to talk about in the West -- that is, she chose to have a good death: surrounded by loved ones, in as little pain as possible, hopefully at peace with having prepared her children as best she could.

I truly hope I don't die from cancer. But I also know that if my cancer does become terminal, there will be a day to let go. And I don't intend to spend that last day kicking and screaming.

I don't think Elizabeth Edwards did, either. And for that, she has my deep respect.
posted by scody at 12:28 AM on December 8, 2010 [61 favorites]


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posted by LMGM at 1:08 AM on December 8, 2010


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(I worked for her husband during 2007 and 2008 election. He was a horrible, slimy person. She, on the other hand, was lovely. Very tell-it-like-it-is, but a lovely person. She brightened up my days on the campaign considerably.)
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:27 AM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by genehack at 3:20 AM on December 8, 2010


If everyone's memory were substantially defined by the worst things said about them by people who dealt with them exclusively during the worst times in their lives, few of us would rest in anything resembling peace. People who didn't like getting yelled at on the phone will probably forget her; people who took something positive from their encounters with her probably won't, and as long as no one uses distorted history to drive future decisions, that's sort of how the modestly refracted beauty of remembering people works, I think -- for public figures and everyone else.

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posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:27 AM on December 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by hydropsyche at 5:07 AM on December 8, 2010


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posted by aught at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2010


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posted by GrammarMoses at 7:03 AM on December 8, 2010


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:28 AM on December 8, 2010


hamida2242 - This is a time to remember someone who fought hard- harder than many Americans can even imagine- and finally lost, and surely clawing and biting to the last breath all the way down. Just like the person I lost did. Just like the person you lost did. Just like the person that guy at work lost did.

Cancer is not a fight, or a battle. People who survive it do not do so because they simply tried harder than those who don't. People who don't survive it, therefore, do not 'lose'.They are just people who had a disease, and that disease destroyed their bodies and killed them.

Such was Elizabeth Edwards, and other loved ones that people here have known. Please don't imply they were losers.
posted by pseudonymph at 8:39 AM on December 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


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posted by arveale at 9:40 AM on December 8, 2010


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posted by ahdeeda at 11:34 AM on December 8, 2010


And it's likely she was close enough that the ubiquitous but never spoken of large dose of morphine was present

My best friend died last January of lung cancer and the ubiquitous large dose of morphine was not there. A stupid timed pump was there, and we could not ease her pain. (both her daughter and I would have done it). I hope Elizabeth had a peaceful death.
posted by francesca too at 1:04 PM on December 8, 2010


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posted by georg_cantor at 7:23 PM on December 8, 2010


Oh dear god, the local paper is reporting that the Westboro crew of crazies is going to picket her funeral on Saturday.
posted by msali at 5:50 AM on December 9, 2010


Oh dear god, the local paper is reporting that the Westboro crew of crazies is going to picket her funeral on Saturday.

I'm not sure I have enough swear words for this.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:09 AM on December 9, 2010


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posted by DieHipsterDie at 12:03 PM on December 9, 2010


Thank you, Elizabeth - a really nice piece by columnist/political wife* Connie Schultz.

*(of Sen. Sherrod Brown)
posted by naoko at 10:18 PM on December 11, 2010


The counter-protesters greatly outnumbered Phelp's crew.
posted by marxchivist at 8:29 AM on December 12, 2010


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