Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Passing The Torch and Taking Up The Cause

The death of Senator Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy rests heavily on my mind this morning.

I think it is hitting me that an entire generation is leaving us. His sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passed away two weeks ago. Michael Jackson died two months ago today. Senator Kennedy spoke so powerfully, hopefully, and eloquently, despite his failing health, just one year ago today. Life, time, generations are fleeting.

Senator Kennedy had been a force in the U.S. Senator for longer than my 45 years. I essentially grew up hearing his Boston accent, seeing that signature head of thick hair, and coming to love him for how much he reminded me of my dad. My father was a few years older than Senator Kennedy. They both had that deep, commanding voice, that head full of thick hair, that fuller than life face, those strong shoulders to hold up the cause of their lives. I miss them both.

One of the things that Senator Kennedy fought for his entire life was health care as a right and not a privilege. I learned that even as the final days were approaching him, he was seeking the legislature in Massachusetts to change the law and appoint a senator in his place. Health care was such a passion for him.

I think it is in light of his obviously missing voice in the entire health care debate, the fact that he was from diagnosis to death in just over a year, and that my father waged a lifelong, historic battle against chronic illness, that this is all hitting me right now. I can not believe that members of the ruling class (corporate america) is so insensitive that they would wage a campaign against health care reform in such a mean and vicious manner. It is the issue of our generation.

During the Democratic National Convention, Senator Kennedy made an unexpected appearance and delivered such a strong, hopeful, and prophetic speech. He said the torch has been passed to a new generation. It has and it is our time, the time of our children, to say NO to corporate greed and profits while men, women, and children sit dying unnecessarily. Health care is just as important as breathing.

Sadness envelopes me like the mist rising off Nantucket Sound in his beloved Hyannas Port. I feel a shift and I hope that we, the collective we, wake up. The Lion of the Left is no longer roaring in the voice of advocacy, but many voices can take up the roar and get our legislature to do the right thing. In his death, I hope the country will realize what he fought so much for in his life, health care for all is life for all.

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