A memory, and just one. Robert Kennedy was shot on the night before our last day of school in 1968, my last day of eighth grade. I remember going through that day not quite able to understand how life seemed normal for so many of those around me. But it did. A neighbor had planned a picnic for that night, and it went on as scheduled. But life that evening did not seem normal; all the adults were stricken. After midnight, Bobby Kennedy died.
Then we re-enacted the ritual remembered from the president’s assassination five years earlier, repeated with the killing of Martin Luther King just a couple months before Bobby was slain: a lying in state, a public funeral, a farewell.
It fell to Ted Kennedy to give the eulogy at his brother’s funeral. I was sick that day and so beside myself–talk about things you never get over, and this was one for me–that I don’t remember much of what he said. The bulk of the text came from Bobby himself, but mostly I recall the end, when he struggled to finish without breaking down. What a loss for him and his family, what a loss for us all. And despite all the personal stumbles, missteps, and humiliations Teddy suffered later, what strength it took for him to go on.