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"She really was a life-changing woman," says 17-year-old Alexandra Gruber when asked about Elizabeth Edwards.
Gruber met Edwards, who died December 8 after a long battle with breast cancer, at a Connecticut press conference three years ago. Gruber had just moved into her first foster home and asked Edwards -- whom she calls Liz -- for some advice. She asked Edwards if she should tell her friends about being in foster care, since she knew Edwards had had to go through the process of telling her loved ones she had cancer.
Edwards' response truly changed her life.
"She gave me such gracious words of wisdom, telling me that all the support that she got from people knowing what went on in her life gave her happiness. I never forgot that," said Gruber, who is still in foster care. "My friends know now, and I have received so much support... She was an awesome woman, and I couldn't have asked for better timing."
Edwards was the wife of former Democratic Senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, but she is best remembered as an advocate for issues like health care and same-sex marriage. She's also known for the grace with which she handled the many hardships in her life: The Edwards' oldest son, Wade, was killed in a car accident in 1996. Her cancer was made public after her husband's campaign ended in 2004, and the family was again thrust into the spotlight in 2008 when it was revealed that John had had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.
But Gruber and Edwards' other admirers say they will remember her for her own strength and accomplishments rather than her husband's indiscretions.
"Thank you, Liz," says Gruber. "In the times of darkness when I thought I couldn't go on, you allowed me to. You allowed me to liberate myself from the chains of misery."
That, surely, is the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards.
(Did you ever meet Elizabeth Edwards? How will you remember her? Share your tributes and read others' memories.)
How come I am the ONLY one that remembers that ALL of her neighbors said that she was a world class b***?
Because you're obviously unwell. Let the damn woman rest in peace!