‘I know what you lost’: Former Senate staffer's moving tribute to Harry Reid goes viral
Harry Reid speaks on Senate floor (Screenshot)

A former congressional staffer reacted to the news of Harry Reid's death on Tuesday by sharing a touching story about the former Democratic Senate majority leader.

The post by Natalie Ravitz, who served as communications director for former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), quickly went viral on Twitter.

Ravitz wrote that she was working as press secretary for Democratic Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone's re-election campaign in 2002.

"On Oct 25, 2002, Paul, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, my colleagues Tom, Mary and Will, and two pilots were killed in a plane crash," she wrote. "Harry Reid was one of the first of Paul’s colleagues to fly in. Still in shock, I spent all day taking him around to events and sorting politics."

At the end of the day, Ravitz drove Reid back to the airport in the black SUV that her deceased colleague, Will McLaughlin, had frequently used to transport her and Wellstone to campaign events.

"Someone must have told Reid that Will was my boyfriend. And that at one point in the schedule, I was meant to be on the plane with Paul. It was a fluke I wasn’t that day," Ravitz wrote. "When we went to say goodbye, he (Reid) asked if he could speak to me alone. He then walked me out to his private plane — a casino jet they had chartered — and asked me to come sit inside with him."

When Ravitz hesitated, Reid said: "I know what you lost and I know whose car you drove today. And I don’t want you to be afraid to get on a plane for the rest of your life. So let’s just go sit together for a little while."

They got on the plane and had a cup of coffee.

"We shared stories about Paul — how brave he was voting against the war in Iraq," Ravitz wrote. "He (Reid) showed me the fancy gadgets on the plane, crazy to him, having grown up so poor. And I told him about Will, and our plan to move back to DC. He said he knew I had lost my home and my job, but I had one with him whenever I was ready. The empathy and emotional fortitude he showed that day has stuck with me always. And it wasn’t just that day; he followed up to reiterate his offer two more times."

After Ravitz joined Boxer's staff a few months later, Reid told her, “She’s the best! But I’m still here if you need me." Ravitz went on to spend seven years on Boxer's staff, working closely with Reid and Democratic leadership.

"He always had a joke or a kind word for me," Ravitz wrote.

She concluded her story with an anecdote about the night the Senate passed the Affordable Care Act, following an impasse over women's health services that reportedly prompted Reid to keep Boxer and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) in separate rooms.

"It was Christmas Eve, snowing and everyone was exhausted," Ravitz wrote. "We had no food and everything was closed: we ate a tin of holiday nuts and cookies sent by constituents and lobbyists. Reid needled (New York Democratic Sen. Chuck) Schumer for stealing all the cashews. We tried and failed to light the fireplace. And we finally got a deal as the snow really came down."

"Together, with all of us in the room, Reid called President Obama from on speaker — I think it was a flip phone — and said we have a deal and we’re headed to the floor. We cheered and the President thanked us all," Ravtiz wrote. "Harry Reid played a defining role in two bookends of my Senate career. He was powerful and strategic, but also wry and soulful. I’m grateful to have known him, for what he gave this country, and for what he gave me sitting together quietly on a plane in Minnesota. RIP."