Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Grieving Parents Club: Thoughts on the Death of President Bush

The passing of a president naturally causes people to reflect—both on the president's life and time in the White House and their own lives seen through the lens of that time. I was deeply moved by today's funeral service for President George H.W. Bush. The four eulogies were eloquent and honored the life of our 41st president with warmth and dignity.

I didn't know that George and Barbara had lost their three year-old daughter Robin until it was mentioned when Barbara Bush died earlier this year. I'm not sure if the Bushes intentionally kept it private back in the days George was active in politics or not. But I am pleased to see the Bush family speaking openly now about their tragic loss all those years ago, and the lifelong grief George and Barbara endured.

I cried as George W. Bush broke down at the end of his eulogy, thinking about his father finally being able to hug Robin and hold Barbara’s hand once more. What a comforting idea that is. For a parent who has lost a child, the thought of one day being reunited is sometimes the only way to get through the agony of having to go on living without her. It is a thought I sometimes entertain about Natalie… (until my pragmatic side wakes up and causes me to question it).

Listening to all the stories and analysis of George Bush’s life and his presidency has been illuminating, but through it all I am left with the image of a father who lost his baby girl and lived the majority of his long, full life grieving her each and every day. Despite all the privilege and power and politics of the Bush family, I am left with the image of an imperfect but very human man who welcomed death with open arms so he could be with his beloved wife and daughter again. I hope he has found them.

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