I met Elizabeth Edwards briefly during the summer of 2007. I was in Oklahoma City, attending a conference of The Compassionate Friends, a bereavement support organization for parents, grandparents and siblings. Mrs. Edwards was one of the keynote speakers.
This was during a time when the path of life would take many twists and turns for Elizabeth. Just a few months prior to the conference, Elizabeth had learned that her cancer had returned and was now malignant–all the while, her husband was making a presidendial bid for the White House. This was also a time when, unknown to Elizabeth, her husband had continued an extramarital affair, which would lead to the birth of a child out of wedlock six months after the conference.
Although many people knew about Elizabeth Edwards because of her courage in facing cancer while supporting her husband, the attendees of The Compassionate Friends conference had the privilege of getting to know Elizabeth as the bereaved mother of a cherished son.
Elizabeth spoke with candor and passion about “Wade” and the impact his loss had on herself and her family. She tugged at our hearts as she described the day when, sobbing in grief, she collapsed in the aisle of the local grocery store when she spotted the Cherry Coke, Wade’s favorite drink.
Elizabeth was scheduled for a book-signing following her keynote address. Hundreds of people lined up to meet her with their copies of “Saving Graces” in hand. I will never forget her kind eyes, and warm smile, as she greeted each person with compassion, knowing she was reaching out to others who were walking the same grief path as she had done.
God bless Elizabeth Edwards, an unforgettable woman. If there is a place called Heaven, there surely is a place there for her!