Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And so the day has arrived

My first post in this blog last February anticipated this day, and so it has arrived - as it always does, and as it will for all of us.

I don't really have much more to say about Ted Kennedy. There are plenty of detailed accolades already in print and online, and so many more to come.

He was my Senator for the entire 32 years I've lived in Massachusetts. I was happy to vote for him, proud. If he had come to our hospital when he first became ill with the brain cancer that ultimately killed him, my colleagues and I would have provided him with the best care possible, because that's what we do for every one of our patients.

The fact that he has died proves he is, in the most essential ways, no different than the rest of us. Sure, his father was one of the richest men in the country of his time, and that fact brought opportunities and advantages to Ted that most of us can only imagine, or envy.

But my work, our work, with the dying and their families brings us closer to people than most others will ever experience. That, too, provides opportunities and advantages, most notably the chance to see that we're pretty much all the same.

photo cropped from one taken last year by Stephan Savoia for Associated Press, obtained at this site, and captioned "Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., smiles as he sit with his daughter, Kara Kennedy, in a family room at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston."

Update: AdamB, writing at DailyKos, links to Ted Kennedy's speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, when he conceded the nomination to Jimmy Carter. This passage stands out among many noble phrases:
"...we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance. We must -- We must not surrender -- We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth."

Update #2: NCrissieB, also writing at DailyKos, has a passionate essay:
"Most of the time, funerals aren't really about the dead but about the living. The dead need mourning rituals the way fish need bicycles. It's the living who need those mourning rituals, to communalize the grief and crystallize what is now absent by celebrating what was once present. Most of the time, the eulogy is about our memories of the deceased, what he/she meant to us.
Read the whole thing.

Update #3: Here's the C-Span feed of the closing song from Kennedy's Friday night 'Celebration of Life.' Indeed, "it's the living who need these mourning rituals."

Watch the whole thing. I'm glad somebody uploaded the C-Span feed, and not the feed from NECN or some other outlet where the newsreaders feel obligated to endlessly chatter their nonsense.

Update #4: Joan McCarter, writing at DailyKos, says:
"He recognized that by a twist of fate by being born a Kennedy, he was born into a life of wealth, power, and privilege. But unlike so many of the wealthy, the powerful, he lived daily with the conviction of the inequity of life in America."

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