The Early Years
Darkest Times >
|Jackie became a paragon of dignity and courage in those days after the tragic assassination of JFK. During his presidency, the nation had idolized her and after his death the nation needed Jackie to hold everything together. The country was stunned, even paralyzed with grief. Foreign leaders broke down in uncontrollable sobs at the great loss. Yet, despite Jackie’s own personal devastation, she focused on her responsibilities to her children and the nation. When she held her children’s hands at the funeral, it was as if she was comforting all. She encapsulated the administration in an attempt to help everyone in the country move forward when she quoted the following lines from a musical to journalist Ted White:
“Don’t let it be forgotten, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot”.
For years, Jackie seemed to live in a gray world of grief. She relied on the help of her friends, family and particularly, her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy for support. She was just beginning to come out of her mourning and to enjoy her life again when another tragedy struck in 1968. After her brother-in-law’s assassination, Jackie was devastated. She claimed that she was only able to survive the death of her husband because of his brother’s understanding and support, and now he too had been taken from her. Jackie fell into a deep depression and agonized over thoughts of her children’s safety. It took a long time for her to recover, and when she did, she proclaimed that she would live for her children first, and herself second. Jackie had realized that she had to make a choice. She had been expected to remain frozen in time – admired at first as First Lady, and now as First Widow. Was she to be a cold and unchanging, dowager queen at 35? Jackie was a passionate woman who struggled to find some freedom from her grief.
The newly empowered Jackie began to treat herself, satisfying her insatiable curiosity with quiet times, books and private trips to exotic locales. She slowly began to enjoy herself again and her friends were delighted to be able to share her joy of life once more. She was skewered by the popular press, but she found the fortitude within herself to press on so that she may live again.