It was not quite 7 am and I was the only one awake, here in my house. I put on the coffee and went out to pick up the newspapers from the front walk.
The Boston Globe had the story. Senator Ted Kennedy died last night.
Not unexpected, of course. His absence at his sister, Eunice’s, funeral was a clear indication of how sick he was. The blow lands hard, nonetheless.
I moved to Massachusetts in 1975 and Teddy was my senator from the start. I heard him speak in person once, at an unscripted event in support of a local hospital, I think it was. He rambled and rambled. I was reminded of the Doonesbury comic strip where a reporter called out, “A verb, Senator, a verb.”
He was a flawed lion. He got away with manslauaghter, probably, and I don’t know if that is forgivable. He also suffered terrible losses — the war-time death of one brother, the murder of two others, the death of his sisters, his own son’s cancer, the travails of nephews and nieces.
In the end, though, I think he will be remembered for tireless efforts, unto his deathbed, to make the world a better place, to challenge America to live up to her highest calling. And to provide health care for all of us. (May his colleagues in the Senate see to it that his dream comes to be, and in his name.)
The noisy and noisome chatter of television and blogosphere has already begun. His memory will be flogged for ratings. His life story will be parsed and pilloried and beatified. There will eventually be complaints about how too much attention is being paid to the loss of this one flawed, gifted, generous man.
At the moment, I am grateful to have gotten the news of his death the way I did. In print and in silence. I could hear my own sigh and feel the loss.
Rest in peace.