Jackie Kennedy: “It is nearly a year since he has been gone” (1964)

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It is nearly a year since he has been gone.

On so many days — his birthday, an anniversary, watching his children running to the sea — I have thought, “But this day last year was his last to see that.” He was so full of love and life on all those days. He seems so vulnerable now, when you think that each one was a last time.

Soon the final day will come around again — as inexorably as it did last year. But expected this time. It will find some of us different people than we were a year ago.

Learning to accept what was unthinkable when he was alive, changes you. I don’t think there is any consolation. What was lost cannot be replaced.

Someone who loved President Kennedy, but who had never known him, wrote to me this winter: “The hero comes when he is needed. When our belief gets pale and weak, there comes a man out of that need who is shining — and everyone living reflects a little of that light — and stores some up against the time when he is gone.”

Now I think that I should have known that he was magic all along. I did know it — but I should have guessed it could not last. I should have known that it was asking too much to dream that I might have grown old with him and see our children grow up together.

So now he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man. I must believe that he does not share our suffering now. I think for him — at least he will never know whatever sadness might have lain ahead. He knew such a share of it in his life that it always made you so happy whenever you saw him enjoying himself. But now he will never know more — not age, nor stagnation, nor despair, nor crippling illness, nor loss of any more people he loved. His high noon kept all the freshness of the morning — and he died then, never knowing disillusionment.

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“…he has gone
Among the radiant, ever venturing on,
Somewhere, with morning, as such spirits will.”

He is free and we must live. Those who love him most know that “the death you have dealt is more than the death which has swallowed you.”

– Jacqueline Kennedy






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