Once, at a memorial service for Irving, a shirt-tail relative whom I was quite fond of but in all honesty wasn't terribly close to nor had great contact with over the years, I became unreasonably upset.
Embarrassed, I said something to my cousin, who had been quite close to Irving (he was actually her uncle, not mine). "When someone dies, everyone you've ever known who's died dies again," she said, which immediately made me feel better.
Perhaps this helps explain how many are experiencing Senator Kennedy's death and why so many have made the trek to the Kennedy Library in the past 24 hours to honor him. Reliving other deaths aside, he was our senator (yes, I'm from Massachusetts), has been my senator for as long as I've lived here, and present enough that I can remember going to a meeting with him at the local junior high school about, guess what, healthcare as many as 17 years ago. Occasionally, I thought I saw him driving past my house on the way to the private school up the street that one of his sons attended (and which he did as well).
I've already told my favorite story about him here. Please see "Oh, hi, Ted" for a small peak at who the man really was in a unguarded moment.
And with his passing, may the search for the cure for brain cancer be amped up. It took the life of my best friend's husband in the same time that it did "Ted's."