I knew instantly what she meant without her ever mentioning his name. It was a moment I had been expecting and dreading, a moment that I knew would bring the old memories flooding back like rapids churning their way over hard rocks.
And it did.
I was a young teenager when I watched Teddy Kennedy for the first time, straggling behind the grieving widow of his brother John as his casket moved along Pennsylvania Avenue. Then, at 20, I watched an older, but still young, Teddy holding the arm of the grieving widow of his brother Bobby. Then, eulogizing in a trembling voice, that man he so looked up to, so loved.
I thought my world had fallen apart for good when Bobby died. We all did. Teddy certainly must have, by this point in his life. But that was not to be. Oh, he had his ups and many, many downs, but he would live to do the work he was born to achieve, to carry on for those he had lost.
And so, I watched Teddy grow into the most amazing, loving, and yes, sometimes very raucous, but always, always, the People's Senator, man who fought every good fight, win or lose. He just seemed to know the profound importance of being human, of living to the fullest, and of helping others less fortunate to achieve their very human dreams.
When Teddy spoke, the World listened; when he raised that tight fist in earnest about an injustice he planned to make right, his lips quivered to hold back the tears that showed his commitment. He was, indeed, the lion we all talk about. But most of all, Teddy was a man of the heart, the heart of the United States, and the truest public servant I ever saw or heard.
I have hardly stopped crying since I heard the news of Teddy's death, but I will. I'll let him go, as I did his brothers. Yes, I'll stop crying, even as he remains forever in my small heart -- the People's Senator.
Go in peace to the God and family you so loved, oh, Lionhearted Teddy. They will greet you with their strong, open arms, and we will carry on in your name, greatly missing your ribald laugh and your urgent and honest cries for justice.
Professor Nan Fandel