In 1977, Elizabeth Anania married John Edwards, a political mogul-in-the-making, in a church without air conditioning in Chapel Hill, N.C.
She wore a $129 wedding dress and an $11 ring on her finger. Though they didn't have a lot of money, the college sweethearts had lot of love. He was 24 years old, she was 28.
Their love story began with dancing at a Holiday Inn.
"Instead of trying to make some big move on me, he kissed me on the forehead at the end of the date, and I mean, I just thought this is so sweet," Elizabeth Edwards said in 2004.
She said that after that kiss, she never went out with anyone again. In her autobiography, "Saving Graces," she recalled the differences and the similarities that brought them together.
"In so many ways, John and I were different. I had traveled the world; he had never left the South," she wrote. "We were each rooted in family and faith, the things we took with us. In the essential ways, we were not different at all."
Two years later, their son, Lucius Wade, was born, and three years later, a daughter Cate. Family rituals like weekly dinners to talk about John's law cases and never vacationing without their children was a hallmark of the Edwards household.
He wrote a book about family and read from it on "Good Morning America" last year.
"Home is family. Home is safety. Home is faith," he said. "The place that helps define how we see ourselves and how we choose to make our way in the world, the blueprint of our lives."
Joy Marred by Death, Disease
That faith was tested on April 4, 1996, when 16-year-old Lucius was killed when a gust of wind overturned his car as he drove to the family beach house. Elizabeth recalled the heartbreaking moment with Oprah Winfrey last year.
"I opened the door and went out on the front porch and I said: 'Tell me he's alive.' All I cared about was that we had a chance to save him," she said. "They said he was dead. There's no gentle way to say those words. I just collapsed at first, of course, and was screaming. Our first thoughts were, 'How are we going to fix this?'"
Taking comfort in each other, the husband and wife decided to have more children. At the age of 48, Elizabeth gave birth to Emma Claire. When Elizabeth was 50, Jack, their fourth child, was born.
"We didn't want to replace [Lucius] Wade -- we'd never wanted to replace him. He was part of the family, always would be," John said in 2006. "But children brought joy to our life and our lives, and we did everything together, our family did. … We wanted that joy again."
Two and a half years ago, that joy was marred when Elizabeth discovered she had breast cancer.
"The truth is that people deal with a lot harder things than we are dealing with right now, and what we're dealing with right now. … It's just a distant second from having lost Wade that it's hard to even think about it in the same breath," she said in 2004. "You deal with what you have to deal with. That's what I found out in my whole life. I found out again in this campaign. People have heartache all the time and they just find a way to work through whatever they need to do."
Elizabeth said that her husband supported her through her battle. His devotion is something she knew she could count on from the start.
"From the moment I told him, I knew what he would do: He would start taking care of me. He always had," she wrote in "Saving Graces."
"And in a very real sense I was, at that moment, unburdened. It all moved to him, all on his shoulders."