At a cabin on a recent weekend, Elizabeth Edwards and her 7-year-old son Jack are working on a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, while 9-year-old daughter Emma Claire is drawing animals on a piece of paper. Returning from a five-mile run, presidential candidate John Edwards raids the refrigerator and plops down in his sweaty clothes to munch on sugar snap peas at the table.
"You're going to be at the hospital, right?" Mrs. Edwards asks him, nervous about the bone scan she faces in a couple days to determine if her incurable cancer has spread further. A concerned look crosses their daughter's face. "Mommy's getting a test," Mrs. Edwards says reassuringly.
When Jack asks at another point who will be his children's grandma because she'll be dead, Mrs. Edwards chokes up, unable to answer.
At the computer, Mrs. Edwards also is working on the "dying letter" to her three children. Calling up her letter to her 25-year-old daughter Cate, she corrects a typo and re-reads her advice on church. "We raised you in the Methodist church to give you a foundation, but ultimately you need to re-examine what choice of church is right for you."Isaac Chotiner