Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Name of the Emotion

I feel something watching the funeral, the procession, all the parts of these ceremonies for the passing of Senator Kennedy. He wasn't my Senator, I live in another state. I didn't know him personally, though I have always known who he was. I don't think I can point to anything particular in my life that he directly affected, but I know he is the force behind legislation that I have benefited from.

But I feel something beyond what I think I should feel for a public figure who has died. I guess it's sadness, but what is a sadness for the passing of a public figure? Is there another word to mourn someone whose hand guided important parts of the government, whose words inspired others to change things for the better?

My son saw me with the twinkle of tears in my eyes as I watched the funeral and asked why I was sad. I told him that Senator Kennedy was a great man who did so much for the country and that watching his wife, his children in their pain, left me with my own. (Pretty sure he stopped listening after the first three words.)

But I still think there must be a word for this feeling that is probably shared by so many watching this. Seeing so many file past his draped casket, let me know how many have this same emotion. We are sad. We are something even more, knowing that our champion, our lion has gone. Even those of us not from Massachusetts, can feel the great loss.

I wish I had a new, powerful word to express this feeling. Maybe desolation comes closest as we close the chapter on Kennedy's life and worry we are closing the book on what we needed him to do.

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