Last year after attending a friend's funeral, I wrote a personal narrative of the end of his life's story to be shared with friends and the family left behind. In part, I wrote: "if the amount of people showing up for one's funeral was truly a measurement of how they loved and affected so many, Tim's funeral tipped the scales. The church was filled with so many people that came to know Tim and came to know his love for all of us. In his short life, he touched so many with his larger than life persona and I feel truly blessed to be one amongst so many."
While my friend died at the age of 50 and Senator Edward M. Kennedy died at the age of 77, both men loved life fiercely and were larger than life. As the media interviewed those who knew Kennedy, they spoke of his thunderous laugh, my friend Tim also had a similar laugh.
In between meeting up again with past members of his family who went before him, I am most assured he was smiling down from the heavens above. One can almost hear his befallen brothers, Joe, Jack and Bobby saying: "You fulfilled your destiny in the service of mankind. Now rest my brother."
To hear the different stories told at his Irish wake of a public memorial service where we got to know more about Teddy was simply remarkable and where we gained an insight into his personal life in the senate. I have to say that my favorite testimonial came from Senator Orrin Hatch. In a time of grief and mourning his brought thunderous laugh. Being Irish myself, it is the very make up of an Irish wake.
I did not know that the funeral mass would be televised, but I am thankful to whoever decided it should be. My guess it was the Kennedy family itself. We who loved him also got to attend it from afar. I truly believe that as it rained, they were tears of a nation pouring down on the city of Boston, a city he so loved. To see throngs of people gathered in that working class neighborhood who could not view the mass, but came none the less was a tribute to his life's work on behalf of the poor and powerless.
I thought that would be the last viewing of his final send off into the heavens above, but was awestruck as his coffin made a stop in front of The Capitol. To see so many people standing patiently to say their final good bye was a tribute to a great man. A man who was much larger than politics itself, but a man of the people. To hear them cheer and clap and say thank you is a testament to such a leader.
As he made his way to be in the company of his brothers, Jack and Bobby, it was suitable it happened as the sun set and where cameras could not capture each and every moment of a family's good bye to a dearly departed. After all, burial services are more for the family. Perhaps after decades of losing family members, they needed their privacy to grieve without the American people being a part of it. This family after all gave so much to us.
In viewing all of the ceremonies that paid tribute to such a wonderful man and leader, I gathered my children for the most important parts. I felt it was history and remembered how Senator Kennedy's niece Caroline stated he was now a part of history.
While an empty hole has been left in the senate, it is my hope that the other 99 senators take into account the thousands and thousands who came out on days that were hot and humid to a day filled with torrential rainfall to know how one man touched a people. It is my hope they can ask of themselves will that many show up for my funeral should I die quickly or after a lengthy illness?
Here is my personal opinion, if consistently saying no to getting the people's business done such as health care for every single American citizen, the answer will be no. Do what Teddy did, get what you can now to cover some and keep on coming back to include more and more until each and every American is covered. After all, through our taxes each and every one of you are covered.
In closing, my heart aches tonight as Senator Edward M. Kennedy has left us all. I sat transfixed to listen to each and every account of his life by so many including the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, his family, friends, colleagues in the senate and local government. If I could add to the mix, I would say thank you on behalf of a grateful nation, Senator Kennedy. You did good! As a New Yorker, you were my senator. Be at peace and rest.