Suzy Remembers Jackie

I prayed and I mourned and I watched, and these are the thoughts that drifted in and out of my mind in a sad stream of consciousness as I sat in St. Ignatius Loyola Church at a funeral I never thought I would be attending -- ever. Jackie Kennedy...

Those were the days when Sen. and Mrs. John Fitzgerald Kennedy lived a block away from me in Georgetown, and Ethel and Bobby Kennedy and their fast-growing brood lived right across the street. Remembering this, I turn to watch Ethel as she walked up the aisle, bent, pale-faced and heavy-hearted, surrounded by her sons and daughters. How many times has she taken these devastating steps before? Too many.

On the podium, Jackie's beautiful children, Caroline and John, who planned the glorious service, have spoken lovingly of their mother; Jackie's friend, Jayne Hitchcock, has recited the 23rd Psalm; Mike Nichols has told of Jackie's spirit of adventure. Maurice Tempelsman, the financier who was her loving companion for the last decade or more, his voice trembling, has read the poem "Ithaka," and made his poignant farewells. And in his eulogy, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Jackie's brother-in-law, has made the most eloquent speech of his life. He has caught the essence of Jackie perfectly and almost made her come alive again for the rapt crowd in the church.

How wonderful to look around and see that the enormous room is filled with people who loved this most fascinating of First Ladies. But then I wonder -- how many men in her life loved her the way a man in love really loves a woman? Perhaps Jack Kennedy at first, intrigued by the combination of class and beauty, her bearing and sense of style, her effortless ability to beguile and charm. But whatever it was he felt, it didn't last long, and her humiliation began. She took it with her head held high. God alone knows what was going on inside.

To Aristotle Onassis, the Greek tycoon, the beautiful young widow who married him in a move to leave the past behind and move on to a secure present, she was a trophy, the biggest prize of all. He crowed at his capture, showered her with jewels and quickly tired of her, leaving her in the lurch, while he tried to rekindle his romance with Maria Callas, whom he had cast aside for Jackie.

When they separated, she said not a word against him even though, in my presence, I had heard him lash out at her, criticizing her hair and the scarves she wore, wondering why she always spoke in that little girl voice, perhaps missing Callas's wild Tosca-notes.
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