I woke up at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning and switched the television channel to the news to let out a gasp. As most, I knew Senator Edward Kennedy was very sick battling brain cancer and based on the "hints" over recent weeks, Massachusetts residents knew he was in trouble. However, I still did not feel ready when I saw and heard those life changing words television telling me Senator Kennedy had indeed died. I was crushed and immediately saddened by the thought that our Senator was gone. This was the Senator whose name I had heard and who stood as my representative my entire life.
So, I wish to say "thank you" to a man who has done so much for the people of Massachusetts and the United States as a whole. I cannot even begin to list the legislation he has written, endorsed, and gotten passed over his 47 years in office. I can tell you, there is not a working "shmo" in this country who has not been positively affected by his presence in the United States Senate. He has stood up for each and every one of us at some point in his career. If, for example, you have ever been entitled to continue your insurance coverage after leaving a job, you can thank him for the COBRA law. If you have ever held a minimum wage job, you can thank him for consistently fighting for minimum wage increases. The list is virtually endless.
A friend used a word yesterday which can describe how I felt knowing Senator Kennedy was there - "protected." She said she now feels less "protected" knowing he is gone. How true that is. I always felt that, for the most part, Senator Kennedy would protect the interests of his constituents - us - Massachusetts residents - U.S. residents. Thinking about Senator Kennedy being there was just second nature because he had always been there - since before I was born in 1964.
As I sit watching local news coverage at the family compound in Hyannisport, I watch Representative Patrick Kennedy with his cousins, nieces, and nephews and realize I owe him, his sister Kara and his brother, Edward, Jr. a thank you as well. Thank you Patrick, Kara and Edward, Jr. for sharing your father's time and commitment with us.
Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for having a caring heart, commitment and a dream. Thank you for being the public servant you clearly were. Thank you for all your hard work and for "sticking up" for us for all these years. Thank you for being our Senator.
P.S. – For all of those who wonder what this has to do with diabetes. Remember, how many diabetics cannot get insurance or good quality insurance for which Senator Kennedy worked his entire career to accomplish. Let’s make that dream come true and pass Health Care Reform this year.