The shocking news this afternoon that NBC's Washington Bureau Chief and political commentator Tim Russert has died suddenly of a heart attack has left me in a state of disbelief. As a self-proclaimed "political animal," I watch Meet the Press most Sundays and always watch the first 10-15 minutes of The Today Show to see what Tim has to say about the political news of the day. With his dry erase board all throughout this political campaign season, he kept tabs on who would get their respective party's nomination, and I was always listening for his opinions, his take on things. He was always on the mark, and I have such respect for his ability to stay neutral even though I know his political leanings and his religious views. THAT is what this country was built on - people being able to set aside their own personal gain/beliefs for the benefit of the many vs. wanting happiness and well being for only those who think/act/pray as they do.
Probably what is most difficult for me to imagine is these next few months leading up to the presidential election without Tim Russert there to guide me through. He was so jubulant about the firsts this election season - first woman running for president, first African-American to be nominated by one of the "big two" parties as their presidential candidate, first primary season in recent memory to ever go all the way down to the wire the way it has. He always said that he is proud of our country and its political process. Even when I've been in doubt as to why on earth I keep voting when the system is such a mess and so few people participate in the process, Tim brought me back to the realization that I keep voting because it is my duty - and every American of voting age's duty - to do my (their) part to make a difference. He always spoke his mind, but not in a disparaging or mean way. He loved his family, he loved his work, he loved his country.
I am so sad for his wife and son, for his father, who now has to bury his child, for his colleagues, and for us "common" folks who watch the news and try to understand and keep up with how things work and what on earth is going on with the election process. We are poorer now for his loss. He will be so sorely missed.
No, I didn't know him, never met him. But I felt like he was the guy next door. His death has hit me hard, and I am so saddened. I am glad I'm working this Sunday so I can't turn on Meet the Press and be reminded that he's not going to be on that set. I have enough faith to believe that he's in a better place, that God needed him up there with Him to help HIM understand what on earth is going on here in America!!! Just like when my mom died right before Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final game as a player - she had the best seats in the house from up there! But I selfishly wish that he'd had many more than those short 58 years here on earth, contributing his wit, wisdom, and laughter to the mostly tense world of politics. Tears for someone I never met? You betcha. I just can't help it.