This story got to me the most -- the knowledge that every week, Ted Kennedy spent time with his reading buddy, Larenai Swann. Larenai could be my own daughter sitting there with the "lion of the Senate." It certainly personalizes him.In so many of the tributes to Kennedy, there's a sense of wonderment that a man who'd endured so much tragedy could still have a zest for life, could still find joy and laughter and time to read with a little girl. Could still give so much of himself.
I don't understand why folks don't understand.
As someone who's endured far more than her share of tragedy, I understand completely. It's because of the adversity you've faced that you appreciate life's goodness with acuteness. It's as though loss is a disinfecting cleanser, splashing itself onto the remaining areas of your life, stripping away the debris to allow what's essential to reveal itself. You know firsthand how fleeting life can be, how indiscriminate death really is. And so, carpe diem, yes, but you want to do more. You want to enjoy your life and at the same time, be about something bigger than your own, brief life.
Bob Herbert expressed so eloquently the Kennedy legacy, how the family's example was a guide for living:
"The Kennedys counseled us for half a century to be optimistic and to strive harder, to find the resilience to overcome those inevitable moments of tragedy and desolation, and to move steadily toward our better selves, as individuals and as a nation."That quest to move more steadily toward my better self is what made me, a woman who'd lost so much but been given even more, to adopt a girl from Ethiopia. I know loss; and I also know how much you get when you give.
In a way, I have Ted Kennedy and his family to thank for that knowledge.