Writers on Kennedy

What we think about when we think about JFK

Belinda Acosta
Belinda Acosta

'The End of the World'

Writers on Kennedy

I have a very clear memory of JFK's assassination, but it's not mine. It's my mother's. I was 4 years old, and my brother was a newborn. My mother had just bathed my brother when the news broke into her soap opera playing in the other room. Like others across the nation, she rushed to the TV, thereby being among the first to experience tragedy in the TV age. Like so many, she was mesmerized, first by the news, then by the images of unfolding events. In my mind, the gravity of what had happened is melded to the horror my mother felt when she eventually realized she'd left her baby unattended.

For myself, the Kennedy assassination is rolled into one huge, nightmarish event which includes the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, both in 1968. I was 9 by then. Nationwide mourning for JFK was still vivid. For me, the aftermath was calmly concluding that it was the end of the world and that I wouldn't live past age 15. Even today, I'm pleasantly surprised to have reached middle age – but I'm always waiting for the world to end.

Former Chronicle "TV Eye" columnist, Belinda Acosta is now a graduate student in creative writing at the University of Nebraska. Her short story, "Birth & Afterbirth" was a finalist in The Texas Observer's 2013 short story contest.

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