Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thoughts on Ted Kennedy

When I was sixteen, I spent two weeks in Washington, D.C. on one of those summer programs to introduce politically minded teenagers to the U.S. government. I don't remember much about those weeks (except for the equally politically minded cute boy from New York), but I do remember how moved I was by the presentation to us by the junior Senator from Massachusetts.

I was hooked on Ted Kennedy then. I've been ever since. I supported his brief campaign for President (was that 1980?) and I've been so grateful to him and his office over the years for his unfailingly support for reproductive rights.

And so I feel a sense of grief learning about his cancer this afternoon, a sense of grief that I'm sure millions of Americans share. Cancer has been hitting close in recent months: one of my dear friend's husband is fighting lung cancer; a colleague and friend has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

I worked as a chaplain on the oncology floor during CPE. Cancer always seems so hideously unfair, unexpected, and scary beyond words. I volunteered for the oncology floor precisely because it was the floor that scared me the most. I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned there.

None more important than the importance of being grateful for every day that is good -- for the importance of people to love and share life with -- and that when it comes to prognosis, my biostat professor was right: the risk is always 1 and 0.

May we all send healing energies and prayers to Senator Kennedy -- and to all those in our lives who are struggling to heal.

1 comment:

Justine Urbikas said...

I, too, went on a similar trip to Washington DC and don't remember what debate was going on the senate floor, but I was taken with Ted Kennedy.
(though there were not cute boys from New York for me, it was a bunch of rowdy inner-city public school kids).

cancer touches so many people's lives, going through cancer with many friends and family members I think its made me less scared of it. maybe its just the excessive exposure... but I don't know, still working out my thoughts on that.

all the best thoughts are being sent to the Kennedy friends and family.