"I understand there have been consultations among House leaders and there is general agreement that the House will now suspend."
With those words from Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, a man whose flowing robes and perch high above the fray gives him gravitas, the social media chatter and stunned conversations coursing through the chamber had been given dark, sombre weight.
The business of the country had come to a sudden halt at 2.17 p.m., less than two hours after Ottawa police had received a call about a man with absent vital signs in a building just off the ByWard Market, about a 10-minute walk from Parliament Hill.
Those who had growled and spit vitriol at each other across the aisle a day before now stood in the middle, hugging each other, offering comfort.
There had been a sudden death in the family.
Jim Flaherty could throw a partisan punch with the best of them, but he left his politics at the door.
His death reminded those of us who are honoured to call Parliament our workspace that the men and women who do combat there day in and day out had lives outside the Commons and there was a shared respect in the place regardless of political ideology.
So there was the leader of the official Opposition, New Democrat Tom Mulcair, a man who had accused Flaherty of many evil fiscal plots, offering condolences to Flaherty's family, his voice cracking from emotion.
"He's a good person," a shaken Mulcair said, simply.
There was the Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tearing up when she remembered parrying back and forth with the former finance minister, and Scott Brison - a fierce critic as a Liberal but once a colleague - looking badly shaken as he remembered the man and his commitment to public service as he stood in the Commons foyer.
Flaherty was no longer a former Finance minister. No one was talking about income splitting or tax policy or provincial transfers.
They were instead talking of a man full of Irish wit, a lover of green ties, a hockey player, a man full of blarney and good cheer who left his partisan instincts tucked away when he mixed with colleagues of all political stripes, toasting the end of a long day with a swig of whiskey in a colleague's office.
He was husband of Christine, the Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP, father to Galen, John and Quinn, a man who had earned time in the private sector or retirement but had that taken from him three weeks after resigning his post.
Word began spreading through the Commons just as the daily question period was set to begin.
Metres away, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to meet with reporters alongside Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, but that was suddenly put on hold.
Brison said it seemed to take a second - and everyone in the chamber knew.
New Democrats halted plans for a final statement, one which was to be critical of the Tory government, and Mulcair was the first to suggest that proceedings be suspended.
"He said there was no point in going through a question period with this sudden loss," May related. "I don't think there was anyone better loved across party lines."
May remembered Flaherty barking at her, "What do you have against leprechauns?" as she posed her first question as an MP after she defeated Conservative Gary Lunn, another Tory of Irish lineage built close to the ground.
John McCallum, a former Liberal finance minister, laughed at how Flaherty would toss barbs at him during darks days for Liberals, calling him an "endangered species" as a 905 Liberal.
Ralph Goodale, another former Liberal minister recalled Flaherty's "impish, almost leprechaun style of his Irish heritage of which he was so proud. And I think all of us could tell for the last number of months that that little leprechaun was missing."
Within minutes of Scheer's pronouncement, the chamber was dark and pages scooped up piles of order papers from MPs' desks.
A red carpet in the Centre Block where Harper and Humala were to walk before a meeting, sat pristine and untouched.
Peruvian and Canadian flags lined the route. Workers began taking them out of their stands.
Metres away, the Conservative caucus sat in silent disbelief in the Commonwealth room awaiting word from Harper.
The room was remarkable for one unmistakable fact. No one was speaking.
Many dabbed tears from their eyes.
Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, a longtime friend, arrived late. She had clearly been weeping as she took a seat in the front row and accepted hugs from colleagues.
After Harper's brief statement, with wife Laureen wiping her eyes at his side, the prime minister came over and embraced Leitch.
"Jim encouraged me to get involved in politics and was the most dedicated mentor that a person could ask for. He was my champion," Leitch said.
She had worked on Flaherty's bid for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and when Leitch made the move into the electoral forum in 2011, Flaherty came to campaign on her behalf in her riding north of Toronto. As Flaherty battled health problems before his resignation, he confided in Leitch, a doctor.
Harper spoke only briefly, his wife Laureen quietly weeping behind him.
"Dear friends, today is a very sad day for me, for our government and for all of our country," Harper said.
Events have shaken Parliament in the past.
A well-liked Liberal MP Shaughnessy Cohen collapsed in the Chamber in 1998, dying later in the day. Jack Layton died during the summer recess after one night at Stornoway.
Wars began, wars ended, planes flew into twin towers. The business of Parliament carried on.
But Thursday, a sudden death in the family turned out the lights in the chamber where Flaherty spent so much of his life.
Tim Harper is a national affairs writer. His column is distributed by Torstar Syndication Services. email@example.com Twitter:@nutgraf1