"It's just terrible," said Ari Abel, who is about Beau's age and knew him since he was a kid. "The whole time I knew him, he was just a decent, nice guy. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone."
Abel and his father, Rob, are both optometrists, and have known the Biden family for years.
"I think Delaware is an anomaly. We're so close to everyone, including our politicians," Rob Abel said. "It's a remarkable family."
I think Rob Abel meant that Delaware was a remarkable family, as well as the Bidens.
You could see Senator Biden at the Amtrak station. Tom Carper would wave you on in a race ("Looking good!"). Mike Castle on Christmas Day would run down the path to the Swinging Bridge wearing his Giant Green Elf Christmas running suit. I can't imagine what madness came upon the Republican Party in 2010. But I guarantee you Castle is grieving with the Bidens today.
Added 3 June 2015
Republican Mike Castle, Delaware's former governor and congressman, said the losses have been particularly hard on Biden because he has always put his family first.
"He's always been there for his children in a very good way, and not in some sort of, 'I'm going to help them up the ladder.' They are his kids. He's going to be there to protect them and care for them in a fatherly way. He's been very extraordinary."
Castle, who was governor in 1988 when Biden suffered an aneurysm that required two surgeries and led to him receiving last rites, said Beau's medical problems had to have hurt even more.
Beau was his "true golden child," Castle said, noting that the oldest son followed in Joe's footsteps at Syracuse University College of Law, and into politics. Beau also served in the National Guard and did a one-year stint in Iraq as a military lawyer. At the last two Democratic national conventions, Beau gave stirring speeches on his father's behalf.
"There was a great sense of pride and fulfillment," Castle said. "He had great feelings for his son and all of a sudden this happens. It's got to be a very distinct shock. He's had his own health issues, but losing two children and a wife is unbelievable. It's just so difficult."
Biden gave a speech on behalf of a book written by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and was "his usual professional self."
Afterward, Castle, who also is a stroke survivor, said he approached his old friend and fellow politician. "I hope all goes well with Beau," Castle recalled saying to Biden.
Biden didn't discuss Beau's condition or indicate that the cancer had returned, but simply said, "Thank you."