"We carry on…"

by Kathy on August 29, 2009 · 9 comments

in 9/11, Baby Benson, Bereavement, Bob, Hope, Inspiration, Loss, Molly, Quotes

I have a thing for funerals/memorial services. Not that I ever want someone to die, especially loved ones, but I find them really moving. I appreciate hearing eulogies and knowing special stories and memories of how the deceased have touched others’ lives. I am inspired by their legacies and how their memories will live on in the hearts of their family and friends. Maybe its in my genes, as my paternal grandfather and his father were both funeral directors. My dad spent a good chunk of his childhood living on the second floor of a funeral home and has some great stories from back in the day. Can you imagine?

So when Bob saw me cleaning/organizing in our bedroom this morning, more “nesting” and last minute baby preparations, while watching the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral on MSNBC, he chided me for my television program choice. I reminded him that I find such national/international memorial services to be interesting and inspiring, in addition to those of people we have actually known personally who have passed. I still recall waking up early one morning to watch the live coverage of Princess Diana’s funeral years ago and it wasn’t the first (and likely won’t be the last) time I have been so enthralled by memorial tributes to public figures.

Though I have been aware of Senator Kennedy for much of my life and of course “The Kennedys” as a large and influential family in our country’s political and social history, I didn’t recall that much about him and his professional accomplishments, let alone his role as the patriarch of his both famous and infamous family over the years. I found the service this morning to be very informative and was especially taken by the eulogies given by his two sons and then by our President Barack Obama. For those of you who didn’t see the funeral this morning, each of his sons and President Obama spoke in their own way about Senator Kennedy and how the losses of loved ones he suffered throughout his life were more than most could bear. They didn’t shy away from his personal failings and pointed out how he both learned from and grew through the poor choices and bad judgements he made at times.

They also highlighted the incredibly legislative legacy that he left, calling him one of the greatest senators of all time. I was moved by the many personal stories each of them shared about how he treated them as their father and/or a mentor and what an incredible father figure he was to his many nieces and nephews after his two brothers were shot and killed in the 1960s. They said that after the tragedies Senator Kennedy had been faced with in his life, many might have retreated and kept to themselves, not wanting to be in the public eye anymore. However, he did just the opposite making it his life’s work to fight for his family and the citizens of our United States to have civil rights and fair laws.

Towards the end of President Obama’s eulogy he shared about how Senator Kennedy had reached out to and built relationships with the families in Massachusetts (the state that he called home and represented in Congress) that lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. Apparently he called them all personally after our nation’s tragedy in 2001 and has maintained contact with them over the years, including taking some of the children of the deceased sailing (something Senator Kennedy loved to do in his free time).

President Obama shared that every year since, on the anniversary of 9/11, Senator Kennedy wrote letters to these families. According to President Obama, one 9/11 widow shared an excerpt from a letter she once received from Senator Kennedy and as he began reading it I was very moved. Having lost all four of my grandparents between 1995 and 2000, as well as other family members and friends that I have been close to over the years and of course our baby girl Molly most recently (in April 2008), I found the quote to be very inspiring. So with the help of our DVR, I was able to pause and rewind and replay the segment until I could transcribe the whole thing to save. Now I will share Senator Kennedy’s words with you:

As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss. But we carry on because we have to, because our loved ones would want us to and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.

~ Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Isn’t that just awesome?! I find those words to be very healing, especially as I reflect on our journey with our second child/daughter Molly and “carry on” preparing for the birth of our third child/second daughter due to be born sometime in the next three weeks. I wish for all of you that have lost loved ones (regardless of how young or old they may have been at the time) that you may also find some peace and hope in Senator Kennedy’s words as you “carry on.”

Rest in peace Senator Kennedy.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beautiful Mess August 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Your words are so very moving for me. Thank you so much for posting Senator Kennedy's words. I believe I came here because I'm struggling with my mom's death right now. So many changes makes me miss her so much and makes the wound of her dying, feel so fresh. I think maybe you can relate to that. Especially because of your post about Molly and the birth of your second daughter in a few weeks(!)

I wish for peace in your heart. I also thank you for posting this today. it's just what I needed to read.


2 Martha August 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Beautiful post, thank you, Kathy, I appreciate it.
My best wishes to you and your family each and everyday as you get ready to welcome your second daughter to your heart and home.


3 A Mom in Jacksonville, FL August 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm

What a lovely post.

Thank you for sharing Senator Kennedy's words with us, I found them very moving.


4 loribeth August 31, 2009 at 9:15 am

This was a lovely post, & you explained my own interest in watching such memorial services very well. : ) I've had a lifelong fascination with the Kennedy family, & while Ted Kennedy had many failings, I think he ultimately rose above them in the end and redeemed himself. I'm sure that it's because he endured so much death & other tragedy in his personal life that he reached out as he did to others in similar pain.

I didn't get to watch the service at Arlington, but I did watch the church service earlier in the morning & thought the eulogies given by President Obama & the two sons (particularly Ted Jr) were incredibly moving. I also watched the celebration on Friday night, alternately cracking up & tearing up at some of the stories that were told.


5 Delenn September 4, 2009 at 6:33 am

One of my pleasures of living in Massachusetts has been being able to vote for him to be "my" senator. I too share your fascination for memorials/funerals and we watched (and made my ten year old watch some of it because it was historical). Very moving words.


6 invention September 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

There's a natural camaraderie with a man who experienced so much loss in his own life, now that he's been lost to the world, too, that calls up strong, public mourning. I found myself following his story and the memorials so closely throughout the week, so much so that my most recent post on my blog was about him and his legacy, too. It's interesting to see how he has that extra resonance for those of us who've known, all too well, tragic loss.
I really liked your moment of honoring Kennedy's passing and the spirit of memorial, especially as you prepare for that new little one to be born, so sweetly, into your life.


7 Katie September 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I agree that funerals can be very inspiring. Someone I really admire commented that young people always like to go to weddings but we can learn so much about life by going to funerals. That has caused me to pay attention more to the things people say about the deceased that sadly often don't get said until the person is gone. Anyhow–thanks for highlighting Ted Kennedy's quote.


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