While the Senate was going strong in its insurance exchange debate Thursday morning, Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, was bringing together the House of Representatives for an emotional break to the Legislature's daily grind.
Miller gave a tribute on the House floor to cancer patients, including Sarah Bedke, wife of Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Sarah Bedke is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
“I hoped what would come out of this is a sense of support and acknowledgement of what they’re going through, and maybe cut them a little slack now and then,” Miller said Thursday evening.
He can relate. His wife, Linda, passed away from cancer in November, just days after Miller won his election.
Miller said he and Linda had discussed whether he should run for for office while she was undergoing treatment. He had Linda’s full backing, he said.
“We didn’t know then that she wouldn’t be around for it,” he said.
The event was emotional for Miller and others who were touched by cancer. Legislative staffers and lawmakers approached Miller while he was organizing the tribute to tell him how their own lives had been touched by the disease.
“It brings back a lot of those memories,” Miller said. “Even though that’s difficult, that’s a good thing.”
Through the grieving process, he's learned to cry and acknowledge his feelings.
Dealing with his grief while learning his way around the Legislature gives him a sense of what the Bedkes are going through, he said.
"Life deals us a lot of crap, and you need to have those moments where you touch people’s hearts and give them hope and give them support," he said.
Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, wore a bright pink shirt and a pink floral tie for the Thursday morning event.
“There was a lot of pink running around today,” he said. Most of those who didn’t have pink shirts or ties wore pink ribbon pins.
“It was really an emotional deal to listen to Steve talk about his wife and the situation he went through,” Moyle said. “It was a humbling experience.”
Bedke said he was touched and surprised by the tribute.
“The usually unflappable Rep. Bedke got flapped,” he said Thursday afternoon.
Sarah, he added, is hanging in there.
“It's tough, but she's doing good,” he said.