As Senator John McCain was lying in state in Phoenix, Arizona, two of his more unlikely friends took to the podium with moving eulogies for the late American maverick. One was Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who joked about how he and Senator McCain seemingly had nothing in common — on the surface, at least — but were nonetheless very good friends. Then came former Vice President Joe Biden, who broke down with emotion almost immediately as he opened his eulogy with the simple statement: “My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain.”
Biden’s eulogy, coming as it did in 2018 — a time of hyper-partisan politics, when it seems lawmakers are hesitant to work with their counterparts across the aisle — was a reminder of a bygone, friendlier era.
“As a young man, he came to my house, he’d come up to Wilmington. And out of this grew a great friendship that transcended whatever political differences we had or later developed because, above all, we understood the same thing,” Biden said. “All politics is personal. It’s all about trust. I trusted John with my life… and I think he would trust me with his.”
Beyond their lives’ calling to serve the American people, Biden and McCain developed a deeper friendship when the former vice president’s son, Beau, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same type of brain cancer that ultimately claimed John McCain. Beau Biden died in 2015.
One of the most emotional moments in Biden’s eulogy came when he addressed John McCain’s 106-year-old mother and spoke about the pain of having to bury a child.
Speaking from experience that there’s nothing anyone could say to ease the family’s pain, Biden assured the McCains that a day would come when the joy of their loved one’s memory would overpower the tragedy of his loss.
“I promise you the time will come,” he said, “because what’s going to happen is six months will go by and everybody is going to think, well, it’s past. But you’re going to ride by that field or smell that fragrance, receive that flashing image, and you’re going to feel like you did the day you got the news. But you know you’re going to make it when the image of your dad, your husband, your friend crosses your mind and a smile comes to your lip before a tear to your eye. That’s when you know.”