Monday, June 1, 2015

No Greater Man Than This

By Jon Dunnemann

Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Brian Horton / AP file

Greater Love has No One than This
13" Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Learning of the recent death of Vice President Joe Biden's son to brain cancer at age 46 left me deeply saddened. Sad because I know this particular pain having lost a child as well. Of course a loss like this always seems to beg the question of "why do bad things happen to so many good people"? This is a question to which there is never an acceptable answer.

Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden who died Saturday at the age of 46, was recently described by the vice president as his "redemption." Along with his brother, Beau was the light in the terrible darkness that seemed inescapable in the face of Biden family tragedy more than 40 years ago. 
Biden's first wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a Christmas time car accident in 1972, just weeks after Biden became the second youngest man elected to the Senate, according to The Associated Press. Biden's two sons, Beau, who was 3 years old at the time, and Hunter, who was 2 at the time, were critically injured, and doctors weren't sure if they would live. 
Biden, facing abrupt single fatherhood, wanted to resign before taking office, but was convinced by the likes of the late Senator Ted Kennedy and others to see out his term, according to the Washingtonian. Eighteen days after the death of his wife and child, Biden was sworn into the Senate at the hospital where his two young sons were being treated.
"I felt I should be sworn in with my children today." Biden told reporters from beside Beau's bedside, according to an AP article at the time. 
The precedent of balancing his political life with his family life was set then. Biden would commute by train from Delaware to Washington for four hours each day "to be able to get home to spend evenings with my two sons," he wrote in a 2011 essay in the Huffington Post. 
"By focusing on my sons, I found my redemption," Biden told students at Yale University's Class Day, just two weeks ago. 
"The incredible bond I have with my children is the gift I'm not sure I would have had, had I not been through what I went through," he said. "Looking back on it, the truth be told, the real reason I went home every night was that I needed my children more than they needed me." 
Beau Biden died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. Biden joined the Delaware Army National Guard in 2003 and served in Iraq from 2008 to 2009. 
- Elisha  Fieldstadt 

When you have the good fortune of having children and find yourself devotedly watching their lives unfold before your own eyes, you can not help but to feel enormously blessed, forever hopeful about their future, and to remain increasingly filled up by a never-ending sense of responsibility as you recognize the important part that you must strive to play in continuously helping your children to very carefully and progressively grow into their true identity, to pursue their own dreams, and eventually, God willing, to wisely build up a family of their own. 
"By focusing on my sons, I found my redemption," Biden told students at Yale University's Class Day, just two weeks ago.
- Elisha  Fieldstadt 

As a father myself, it is heart-warming to know that the Vice President got the wonderful opportunity to enjoy witnessing much of the fullness of a man's journey through his son Beau Biden's body of lived experience. This certainly does not resolve the tremendous pain and loss that he and the rest of his family and friends are experiencing at this time. However, I do hope and pray that Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill, and Beau's wife Hallie and children Hunter and Natalie can all find the courage, faith and strength to keep the divine light of "Spirit" and the beautiful memory of Beau brightly shining for all to honor and enjoy for a very long time to come.