The late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) may not have lived to see healthcare reform become a reality but his widow was on hand to witness the Senate take a huge step toward achieving what he called the cause of his life.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy looked down from the Senate's viewing gallery as 58 Democrats and two independents joined to cast a crucial and historic vote to bring a healthcare reform bill to the cusp of passage. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle sat beside her.

Reggie Kennedy was greeted with embraces in the reception room just off the Senate floor by a number of her late husband's colleagues, including close friends Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who sat in Kennedy's chair throughout the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's process of assembling an earlier version of the bill.

"He's smiling," Reggie Kennedy said to Dodd. "You made history tonight."