updated 12/09/2010 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 12/10/2010 AT 8:05 AM ET
Elizabeth Edwards left behind not only her three children, but a grieving former nanny who says Edwards was like a mom to her, too.
“I lived with them for a lot of years every single day,” Heather North, a nanny for the Edwards family for five years, tells Boston’s WHDH. “She’s my second mother. She helped shape the person that I am. We love her dearly. She is an amazing woman.”
North was hired to care for the family’s two youngest children, Emma Claire and Jack, and was with Edwards in Boston when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Edwards died Tuesday at 61 after a six-year battle with the disease.
North left the family in 2007, but says she stayed in touch with Edwards and spoke to her just last week.
“I know that there’s going to be difficult times ahead,” says North of the grieving process. “There’s going to be difficult times when I see the children, moments, but … I made a promise to Elizabeth that I know one thing that is very important to her is memories, family memories.”
She also acknowledged the difficult times the family went through after John Edwards admitted to having an affair, which ended both the couple’s marriage and his political career, but says it’s not surprising that John was at his wife’s side when she died.
“It’s a complicated romance,” North says of John and Elizabeth. “It’s a deeper romance than a lot people can grasp. There was a deep love for each other.”
A public funeral for Elizabeth will be held Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.