The last time many in the extended Kennedy clan probably heard from Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter Maeve McKean was last Tuesday, when she popped into their inboxes to share her love and a poem that had been on her mind amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It may be that many of you have already seen this, and if so I don’t mean to flood your inbox,” McKean, 40, wrote in a note to the family’s email listserv, according to uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“I know I am missing my boring Tuesdays,” she wrote with a smiley face. “Much love to all!”
The enclosed poem, Laura Kelly Fanucci’s “When This Is Over,” reflects on the surreality of society’s suspension during the virus — with billions of people staying indoors and all but essential public business halted.
The poem, too, imagines how every one who emerges from the virus may be changed for the better.
“When this is over,” Fanucci wrote, “may we never again take for granted; a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning, coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath! A boring Tuesday. Life itself.”
“When this ends,” Fanucci wrote, “may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hope to be, and may we stay that way — better for each other because of the worst.”
Two days after McKean shared those lines with her family, she and her 8-year-old son, Gideon, were lost beneath the waves of the choppy Chesapeake Bay.
According to McKean’s husband, the pair had set out in a canoe hoping only to retrieve a ball that had been kicked into the water while they were playing outside.
While social distancing during the virus they had gone McKean’s mother’s bay-front property, which was empty, “hoping to give our kids more space than we have at home in D.C. to run around,” David McKean wrote on Facebook.
After Maeve and Gideon set out by canoe into the protected cove by the home, they “somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay.” Winds that day reportedly whipped at more than 20 mph, with some waves two to three feet high.
Their canoe was seen about 30 minutes later, but Maeve and Gideon were not recovered, David wrote. Their capsized boat was found some two hours after that.
On Friday night, the family announced that they believed both mother and son had died.
The search for their remains continues.
“There has been an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from so many people,” David wrote on Facebook Friday night. “Given who Maeve and Gideon were, I am not the least surprised.”
“Many have asked what they can do. I don’t have any answers for that right now,” he continued. “If people have photos of Maeve or Gideon, those would be great for us to have, especially for me to share with [daughter] Gabriella and [youngest son] Toby. And feel free to tell stories here.
“As Gabriella and Toby lay sleeping next to me last night, I promised them that I would do my best to be the parent that Maeve was, and to be the person that Gideon clearly would have grown up to be. Part of that is keeping their memories alive.”
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