Elizabeth Edwards Focuses on Living Everyday
The estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edward has been making the rounds this week on news -programs and television shows promoting a revised paperback edition of her latest book.
And their 28-year-old daughter, Cate Edwards, has an essay in the new edition of People magazine, her first public statement.
Elizabeth Edwards' book, "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities," is out with a few cuts and an added afterword bringing it up-to-date with events since its publication in May 2009.
At that time, she and her husband were still together, still trying to find some way to salvage a marriage and a relationship that started when both were law school students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
John Edwards, who was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004 and then made another failed presidential run in 2008, admitted that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer. In January, Edwards admitted that he is the father of Hunter's child, Frances Quinn, who was born in February 2008.
The Edwardses have since separated.
In appearances on NBC's "Today" and CNN's "Larry King Live," Elizabeth Edwards says she is not focusing on her cancer or thinking about death, but dealing every day with life and living.
She added the new section to her book to cover her changing circumstance and details that were not known to her a year ago - a continuing effort, she says, to reclaim her life rather than thinking about her death.
"I don't let my head go to that place," she told NBC's Matt Lauer. "You just have to keep what you want in view always. If I start thinking about, 'Well, what if it's not?' I think there might be a panic, because you think you're getting close to the end. I want to live at a normal cadence with my children."
If there is one wish, she says it is for eight more years to see her youngest child graduate from high school. The boy, Jack, is 10, and his sister, Emma Clare, is 12.
Cate Edwards has also spoken for the first time publicly about the events. In an essay appearing in this week's People magazine, she talks about the train wreck of her parents' marriage, her mother's illness and the resilience of Elizabeth Edwards.
"There are the things she taught without words," Cate says in the essay, describing how her mother taught her "how to continue to live your life on your own terms when it somehow becomes savaged by people you never invited into it."
Wade, the Edwardses' first son, died in a car accident as a teen. The Wade Edwards Foundation helps young people in his memory, and the Edwardses - despite their marital separation - work together on it and on being parents.
"I have three living children for whom this is a father whom I want them to love, in whom they're going to have to rely, perhaps, if my disease takes a bad turn," Elizabeth Edwards told Lauer. "It's really important to me that they see him in a positive light."
According to People, both John and Elizabeth will soon travel to Japan to show the children where she grew up. John Edwards is going along, which she says will be helpful - noting that sleeping arrangements will be "very different." It is part of continuing as parents despite all.
"I think it's going pretty well," she said. "He was the assistant coach of an all-star softball team and I'd go to the games and cheer and then he comes and asks me some question about substituting, so we're still working pretty evenly with respect to the children."
Divorce - in North Carolina - requires a year living completely separate and apart, but no divorce is planned, she said. Despite his marital infidelity and a year with what seemed one embarrassing new report after another, Elizabeth Edwards said she continues to admire her husband, as she told both King and Lauer.
"Despite this big, horrible thing that happened, I still look back and think I married a marvelous man," she said on the "Today" show. "I think I did marry a marvelous man. I think he changed over time. I think it was sort of hard for me to see it or admit it for a very long time. But he changed. Maybe we all change over time. And he's no longer the person whom I married. I still admire an enormous number of things about him. The things he cares about are things I think are important."
'Wants to Be Father'
Elizabeth has seen her husband's other daughter, she told Larry King.
"I have seen the child, actually," she said Wednesday night on his CNN show. "When John and I were together and he was, you know, wanted to be a father - which I admired. They should, you know. He - when he found out that in fact this was his child and he wanted to be a father - if that were the case when we were together I would be this child's stepmother. And so it was important."
Arrangements were made for Frances Quinn to be brought to them for a visit last December.
"We went down - I know - we went down to Charlotte, and a third party picked up Quinn and brought her to where we were and - that John spent some time alone with her," she said. "We bought - it was before Christmas - we bought Christmas presents and dresses and little things. It was not awkward in the least. You know, she didn't know who I was. You know, that was something she was going to learn over time. And unlike John, she didn't have a name or was not going to be a name that she then associated with me."
At the time, Elizabeth Edwards was still hoping the marriage might continue. That would mean a continuing relationship with little Frances.
"I love children and, you know, sitting there playing with toys with her, you know, she seems like a really nice child and - I looked forward to having a relationship with her at that time," she said. "Now there's no reason really for me to."
Edwards said she felt she had to add to her book, because so many things had come out since its original publication more than a year ago.
Other books have appeared. "Game Change" depicts her in an unflattering light. Andrew Young's "The Politician" - which she said she hasn't read - tells stories about her she says are not true.
"I banned Andrew Young from my house in February of 2007 before I knew any of this, because he lied so often I just could not believe anything he said," she told King. "Told him if he came back on my property, I'd have him arrested. I can't have you around me."
She told King that she thinks Young "had it in for her."
"I had someone contact his publisher and tell them that the stories that he was promoting - what he was trying to sell the book - that those stories about me were not true," she said. "They needed to be careful because, you know, I think some people have a lot of knowledge."
Now Edwards said she is trying to put her life back together, to think about herself and who she really is and what she really wants.
"Like so many women, what I want revolves around family," she told King. "I actually had written in the - in the hardback originally that I was going through a lot of this torment. That's one - I think I needed to leave behind. I needed to leave these people behind me. I needed to leave that life behind me and do something that is better for my health, better for my kids, better probably for my longevity."
She fears for the effect all this is bound to have when she does reach the end of life.
"You know, when it happens ... John's going to get hit awful hard. You know he's going to take a brutal beating," she told King. "It just breaks my heart for my children, because one of the things that I really want is for them to have - because they'll need it - they'll need to have a good relationship with their father.
"And as I - that's enormously important to me. He's been a great father to them in a lot of ways ... in so many ways, he's been really a spectacular father. And I want them to have that. So if he's going to do that, it's going to be - it's going to make that more difficult."
As for cancer, she has advice for others facing death.
"As long as you're walking around, as long as you're not dead now, then you're alive," she said. "You're alive and, you know, don't spend your time worrying about when it is you're going to die. Spend your time worrying about how it is you're going to live today."
Contact John Chappell by email at email@example.com.
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