South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
A few years ago, after Joe finished his time as Vice President, a publishing company told me that they thought that I should write a book about my life. Now, I teach writing at a community college, and I’ve always been a big fan of journaling. So I thought, sure, I can do that.
I wanted to talk about my childhood and how Joe and I built our family. I wanted to talk about being Second Lady and all the lessons I had learned. But there was one thing I did not want to talk about: My son Beau.
He was just seven years old when I started dating his dad, but from the moment I met him and his brother, Hunter, I felt a special connection. With his sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes, people would often say to him, “You look just like your mom,” and he and I would share a secret smile.
After he joined the National Guard in his thirties, Beau would leave to serve weekends and then come straight to our house when he was finished. I can still picture him with such clarity, bursting through the door on those evenings, yelling, “Mom!”
When I started writing my book, just two years after his death, even the best memories were laced with pain. I felt like his loss was crushing me. And I worried that shining a light on it would only make it grow.
So I told my team that he was off limits.
But then, one day, I found myself writing words without thinking.
“I’m shattered,” I scribbled on a yellow notebook. “I feel like a piece of china that’s been glued back together again. The cracks may be imperceptible, but they’re there. Look closely, and you can see the glue holding me together.”
There were days when I felt like it took all of my strength to keep my grief inside of me, but when I wrote, I didn’t have to. I could let it spill out, messy and melancholy and mad.
It didn’t make my sorrow smaller. But it helped give me the strength to carry it.
Your loss is different than mine. Your families have made a sacrifice that can never be repaid. And because of that selflessness, you are facing a world without the wisdom, and kind words, and warm touch of the person who is supposed to be by your side as you travel through it.
I can’t know the contours of your unique grief, but I know that it’s hard to carry.
I can’t tell you that it will ever shrink, but I can tell you that you will grow.
It takes courage to write. It takes courage to open yourself and let the light shine on all of the cracks that vein through our hearts, to let our sadness and fear and longing and love spill out onto the paper. But it’s worth it. Because it helps us glue ourselves back together. It connects us to those who carry their own grief, reminds us that we aren’t alone.
You aren’t alone. Your President and I are on your side. We keep you in our hearts. And we’re working to support you every day.
Thank you for sharing your stories with me today. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. God bless you and keep you all.
Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/05/09/remarks-as-prepared-for-delivery-by-first-lady-jill-biden-at-a-writing-seminar-for-gold-star-children-and-siblings/