Like the rest of the world, I've just learned that Senator Edward Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain cancer. Shock, sadness, heartbreak...for this man has been to the wall, been through the fire many times and is still standing. No one in my memory has lived through so much tragedy.
Ted and his siblings have changed the face of politics as we know it, and the face of humanity as we experience it.
His older brother, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was an amazing person who opened doors for so many people in his years as a senator and a president. I so clearly remember the exact moment when I heard that he'd been murdered.
I was 18, married and expecting my first child. I'd just made lunch, then put my feet up and was settling down for a little afternoon nap. When I turned on the TV, I saw the news flash across the black and white TV screen...
"As The World Turns” was on, and the day's program was interrupted by a news bulletin. Walter Cronkite said:
“Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”
I was in total shock and disbelief.
Someone shot him?
How is that possible?
Then the fatal follow-up news:
“From Dallas, Texas, the flash - apparently official - President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. Central standard time, 2 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”
Something in our lives died that day, along with this man who, with his wife and their young children, had caught our attention and made us watch what was transpiring in the political landscape in the United States.
I remember watching the next few hours and days on TV...scenes of John's younger brother, Robert, accompanying his widowed sister-in-law and his brother's casket back to Washington. I cried as I sat stunned, seeing Edward, the youngest child in the Kennedy family, walking with his other brother, Robert and his sister-in-law, Jackie. I remember that he looked like he had been struck dumb, like he was going through the motions...he'd just lost his big brother, in the cruelest kind of way.
Wednesday, 5 June 1968...I was sitting in the dining room, visiting with a girlfriend and we saw the news on TV, this time in colour, announcing that Senator Robert Kennedy had been shot while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President.
Sooner than we could imagine, the news came that Senator Kennedy had died from his wounds.
Another state funeral, another brother who had been murdered, long before his natural time to die.
Another image of Teddy Kennedy grieving another heartrending loss.
An image of Teddy giving the eulogy for his older brother, Robert.
Today, hearing the news that Ted Kennedy has a malignant brain tumour, my mind flashed back to all of the collective images in my memory of his loses...John, Robert, Jackie, his dear nephew, John Jr., his mother, Rose, his father, Joseph, and so many more.
I wonder if the cancer growing in his brain might consist of a culmination of all of the energy and pain from the horrors and gut-wrenching sorrows he's had to deal with in his life.
God speed, Teddy.
God bless you and keep you real good, now...y'hear?
“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.”
~ Edward Kennedy