I had lunch with Teresa today and one of our topics of conversation was Tim Russert’s untimely death. Teresa loves politics and, like me, appreciated Russert’s insight. It was interesting that we felt the need to process it. It seems everyone does.
Later today I had an email from Susan, who was in DC visiting family when Russert died. Her brother works at NBC and often worked with Russert, but was on vacation that day to attend a family graduation. Susan said right after graduation his phone started ringing with the news. She said she drove by NBC on Sunday to see the memorials, finding at least 10 cars parked on the street with people getting out to read the memorials or to place a remembrance on the spot.
Some time ago when I was at Susan’s farm, the subject of Meet the Press came up. I didn’t know her brother worked on the show. At the time, Susan told me that when her mother was celebrating her 80th birthday that Russert visited with her after the show and posed for a photo with her. He was the gracious soul to her that everyone describes him being. How many times have we heard that story in the last few days? And yet I never tire of hearing it, in whatever permutation it shows up.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the six degrees of separation and how the experiment showed it was more like 3.7 degrees of separation. It occurred to me this is a perfect illustration of the principle. I had absolutely no connection to Russert, and yet there were two people connecting us – Susan and her brother. It serves to point out to me again just how much of a small world this is. And maybe that’s why this public mourning can be so intense for us, why we feel a loss even though we have no personal connection to the person. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it?
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