Thursday, October 25, 2012

That's Why They Call It "Saint Paul"

Ten years ago today, I was inventorying the bar at Jeune Lune when Sonya Berlovitz rushed in to tell me that Paul Wellstone was dead. "Don't be silly," I remember saying, "you don't die that suddenly from MS." And then I learned about the crash, and left work immediately to go to Judy McLaughlin's house, where we all mourned Paul, and Sheila, Marcia, Tom, Mary, and especially Will.

I was out of the country when Paul was elected, but when I came back, he was the first national-level politician to really affect me. Part of that was his personality — giving out cups of water to runners at the marathon, getting us all to gather around that green bus, consistently listening to people and challenging them to do more at the same time. As much as Paul meant to me personally — and I know I was lucky to have that kind of access to a truly great man — he meant even more to me as a senator who truly represented his constituency.

And his family and staff. Will was so busy working with the campaign that his stories would often get passed on through Judy. Just a few nights before, she had told me that, when they drove Will's car, Paul would consistently wave and gesture to people as they passed. He finally commented that he was so surprised they never waved back — until Will had to break it to him that the windows were tinted and that people could not see in the car.

There are many times now where I think "That never would have happened if Paul was still in the Senate." In so many ways, ten years later it still feels raw, and like it will never be the same.

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