Salinger also noticed something new. "The death of the infant was one of the hardest moments in the lives of both President and Mrs. Kennedy," he recalled. "The White House had brought about a closeness in their relationship, a wider understanding of one another. The death of their baby brought them even closer."
How enduring their new closeness would have been is impossible to know. Barely three months after Patrick's death, the President Kennedy and his wife Jackie climbed into an open Lincoln Continental limousine for a ride through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
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Levingston is The Washington Post's nonfiction book editor. This essay is adapted from his e-book "The Kennedy Baby: The Loss That Transformed JFK."