Funeral and memorial services for George H.W. Bush — who served as the 41st president of the United States between 1989 and 1993 — began this morning at the Washington National Cathedral. He died on Friday at the age of 94.
Bush will be laid to rest in Texas at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum next to his wife Barbara Bush, who died in April, and his daughter Pauline Robinson "Robin" Bush, who died of leukemia in 1953 at just 3 years old.
It was a life-changing event for the couple, the TODAY Show reported in April, following Barbara's death. In a TODAY interview with her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara recalled what the doctors said when she and her husband were given the news.
"She said, ‘You don’t do anything. She’s going to die,'" Bush said. "She said, 'My advice is to take her home, love her. In about two weeks, she’ll be gone.'"
The family did still seek treatment, but Robin passed away just before her 4th birthday. Following the former first lady's death, Jenna Bush posted to Instagram an editorial cartoon by Marshall Ramsey of her grandmother reuniting with Robin, writing: "Someone sent this to me — I don’t know the artist but I love him. Miss you Gans."
Listen to Barbara Bush read #Bush41’s letter to his mother about their daughter Robin who died of leukemia at age 3. President Bush will be buried next to to his wife and daughter on Thursday. Another selection from “All The Best” ?? #Remembering41 pic.twitter.com/GzcC6y4rt3— Bush Foundation (@Bush41) December 2, 2018
He continued, writing about Robin's loss: "But she is still with us. We need her and yet we have her. We can’t touch her and yet we can feel her. We hope she’ll stay in our house for a long, long time."
USA Today reported that while there was a "no crying" rule while Robin was being treated at New York's Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, former President Bush would frequently have to excuse himself to the "bathroom" to regain his composure.
"We used to laugh and wonder if Robin thought he had the weakest bladder in the world,” Barbara Bush said, according to the publication. “Not true. He just had the most tender heart.”
She continued, writing about a conversation with her grandfather where she asked him what he looked forward to in the afterlife.
“And he said, ‘Well, when I die, I’m going to be reunited with these people that I’ve lost.’ And I asked who he hoped to see. He replied, I hope to see Robin, and I hope to see my mom. I haven’t yet figured it out if it will be Robin as the three-year-old that she was, this kind of chubby, vivacious child or if she’ll come as a middle-aged woman, an older woman. And then he said, 'I hope she’s the three-year-old.'"
VIDEO: In Memoriam: George H.W. Bush
Bush only mentioned Robin once by name in public during his presidency, and it was during a speech about the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, according to USA Today.
“When our own daughter was dying of leukemia, we asked the doctor the same question every HIV family must ask — why, why this was happening to our beautiful little girl?” Bush said. “There is only one way to deal with an individual who is sick: with dignity, compassion, care, confidentiality, and without discrimination."