The end came suddenly for Elizabeth Edwards, shocking everyone in her life. Just last week, she was told that she had several weeks to live, maybe a month. Instead, she died Tuesday morning at 10:15 of breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver.
"After so much pain the past several years, it was an easy passing, and she deserved that," a friend was quoted as saying.
Elizabeth's youngest children, 12-year-old Emma Claire and 10-year-old Jack, were at school when mom died. Her oldest daughter Cate, had come home for Thanksgiving, and, realizing her mother's deteriorating condition, never left.
A photo of Elizabeth's son, Wade who was killed in a car accident at 16, was at her bedside. It is her dying wish to be buried next to him. Tammy Haddad was a longtime friend of Elizabeth's.
Haddad said, "She had special relationships with each of her children. And I know right now that she's happy to be with Wade. She said it herself, 'When I die, it's not going to be bad.' "
Elizabeth's estranged husband, former Presidential candidate John Edwards, will reportedly leave his bachelor pad in North Carolina and return to the estate that he shared with Elizabeth before their bitter separation to take care of the young ones.
Haddad said, "I don't think the American people understood that Elizabeth had resolved so much of the heartache caused by John the last couple of years, and that they had really come together as a family."
Elizabeth was determined that the children maintain a healthy relationship with their dad, regardless of the cheating scandal with Rielle Hunter that has destroyed his reputation.
Psychologist Jeff Gardere said, "To let the kids know that first and foremost, no matter what he did, that he was their father. He was always to be respected. He was always to be loved, will help them in their transition of no longer being with their mother physically."
Elizabeth was renovating a new home in Chapel Hill with the expectation of moving in next spring to get a "fresh start," and leave behind bad memories of her troubled marriage.
President Obama called John Edwards and his daughter Cate to express his condolences.
We caught up with actress Vanessa Williams today in New York at the Muse Awards who said, "I think she was a remarkable woman who's definitely left her imprint on the lives of a lot of people who followed her and prayed for her and fought for her."
Haddad said, "Elizabeth Edwards and American people were in it together, and she knew that, and she knew that to the end. So it is very sad and it is very hard."