A mother first
Posted December 6, 2010 9:49 p.m. EST
Updated December 7, 2010 10:23 a.m. EST
The name Elizabeth Edwards will never be said without prompting a visceral reaction from people.
Not by choice, she will always be recalled as the wife of a failed presidential candidate who had one of the most dramatic public falls from grace in our country's history.
Take one look at the comments on our Web story about her worsening health, and you'll see. There is anger, there is protectiveness, the emotions sway like a pendulum that's being swung frantically from side to side.
But at the end of the day, we are all not just one thing, but made up instead of many parts that create our whole being.
While Elizabeth Edwards' legacy is inextricably tied to John Edwards' demise, she is more than that. She is a mother, a writer, a sister, a daughter. I would say that out of all these she is first, and foremost, a mother.
Edwards lost her son, Wade, in 1996 in a car accident at the age of 17. Most of us who are parents cannot even fathom living through such a tragedy. But somehow she did.
She survived for daughter Cate. She then made the bold choice of having more children in her late 40s. First, there was Emma Claire, and then Jack. The youngest children are now adolescents – old enough to understand what is going on, too young to be without their mother.
Elizabeth Edwards' children will not remember her as a woman connected to a historic political scandal, they will simply remember her as their mother – the woman who nurtured them, cared for them and raised them to be able to go on without her.
I have only met Elizabeth Edwards once.
It was more than a decade ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I remember we spent at least an hour at her house in Raleigh talking about children and parenting before we did the interview.
She told me about going into labor with one of her children at the circus and waiting to go to the hospital because she didn't want her other child to miss the elephants. I've never forgotten that.
No matter what else we do in life, we are mothers first. That is our legacy, no matter what others decide it should be.