I’m a Bobby Kennedy fan.
I even have his picture in a nice, silver frame on my window sill, so it’s not unusual for me to be reading about him still again, as in, Robert Kennedy, a Memoir, by Jack Newfield, written in 1969, a year after his death.
Newfield, who at the time, was writing an authorized biography of Bobby, was traveling alongside him during his 82 day presidential campaign which sadly included June 5, 1968, the day he was shot in the Ambassador Hotel’s kitchen in Los Angeles, California.
I had eight pages left, but put the book down before going to bed, unusual for me not to finish, when I was so near the end.
This made me think of Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker, who, while finishing the soundtrack for his film, The Civil War, when it came down to putting in the gunshot that killed Abraham Lincoln, hesitated, he said, because he could then keep Lincoln alive, just a little longer.
It made me see why I didn’t finish those last pages.
If I could keep Bobby talking, laughing, smiling up on that podium giving his acceptance speech for winning the California primary, I too, could keep him alive.
I wrote to my friend Ed who happens to be in California, not far from where the Ambassador Hotel once stood, asking, what’s wrong with me Ed, that I could still weep this way, after finally reading those last few pages?
I unpacked, and then, with the lights out, I sat in a chair and tried to adjust to the reality of Robert Kennedy dying. Why did it happen? What did it mean? What did I think about violence? My thoughts were not clear: they were not strong enough to support my feelings. I finally wrote down just three words on a lined yellow pad. He is irreplaceable….then I went to sleep remembering, he was only 42 years old.