WASHINGTON >> Speaking of his own experience after his son Beau’s death, Vice President Joe Biden consoled the family of the late Rep. Mark Takai on Wednesday, telling them to “hang on to each other” to make it through the rough days.
Biden joined members of Congress and Takai’s family at a memorial service in the U.S. Capitol to honor the Democratic lawmaker, who was serving his first term representing Hawaii in the House when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Takai died in July at age 49.
The vice president recalled meeting Takai earlier this year. He said that despite Takai’s own grim diagnosis, the lawmaker offered Biden condolences about his Beau Biden, who died in May 2015 at age 46 after battling brain cancer.
Biden called the congressman courageous and told his wife and two children to keep his memory close.
“The only thing I have observed is, deep in your broken heart the only way to get through it is to hang on to each other, hold each other,” said Biden, whose words elicited an emotional response from many in attendance.
He told Takai’s children that their dad will be with them for the rest of their lives.
“I promise you the day will come when Mark’s memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden said. “I promise you.”
At the service in Statuary Hall, ukulele players strummed “Aloha Oe,” a Hawaiian song performed to bid farewell. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and members of the Hawaiian congressional delegation also spoke.
Biden has occasionally talked about his grief after his son’s death. In September 2015 he teared up as he told talk show host Stephen Colbert that “sometimes it just overwhelms you.”