I was glad to see John Stewart revel in the death of Osama Bin Laden. I’d begun to feel like the only liberal in America happy to see that dogfucking monster go to his grave.
I wasn’t about to take a flag out in the streets. But I understood. And I’ll be honest with you: I’m glad he’s dead. I’m glad he was shot down like a common fucking thug. If I have one regret about the way it went down, it’s that he didn’t coke to death on a gorilla cock. He was a monster who made the world worse. His actions not only permanently altered our way of life, but helped polarize America in a way it never previously before had been during my lifetime. Fuck him.
He made us question each other’s patriotism. He took away our civil liberties, and raised the specters of religious and cultural intolerance. He led us away from the rule of law and drew us into two bloody, costly wars. Fuck him.
We did those things to ourselves, of course, but we did them for him.
And while many of my friends passed around apocryphal MLK quotes, or chastised those out in the streets, I had a different take.
Do you remember where you were on September 11? Of course you do. I do, too. We all have a story. Here is mine:
My grandmother was dying of cancer. My mother had taken her out of the hospital and brought her home to die.
My grandmother and I were very close, as close as I was to anyone in my family. I could talk to her about things that I could not with my own parents. She could be a mean bitch, but never was to me. I think we respected each other. We were very close friends. And now she was dying.
I barely made it. I arrived that night, and my grandmother seemed to recognize me. She smiled and held my hand from the hospital bed that shared my mother’s bedroom. And I think she knew me. She was small and frail and bald and bony, and reminded me of a certain Shins song that had not yet been in a certain coming of age movie, or certain McDonald’s french fries commercial. I listened to it over and over.
That next morning, I stood by her bed while my mother and Victorene (a woman my mother had hired to help with my grandmother) and a hospice nurse gave my grandmother medications and washed her off. Together, we pulled on her arms and legs to straighten her out in the bed, as she drew her limbs in at night. Despite the massive amount of opiates flowing through her bloodstream, my grandmother screamed and screamed and screamed in pain as we moved her.
And then it was time to get her unimpacted. Which meant that while Victorene held onto her from one side, and the hospice nurse another, my mother would reach up inside my granmother’s anus to make her bowels move. That is cancer.
And I walked down the hallway into the living room, where the phone was ringing, and I answered it. And it was a friend of my mothers, who told me to turn on the TV. And then I stood there and watched the towers burn and fall while my grandmother’s screams and wails and cries of pain filled the house.
My wife, my new bride, was in San Francisco. Every flight in the nation was grounded and there was no way she could get to me, or I to her. Rumors built on rumors, and I was terrified for her. I was terrified for us all. What would happen? Where would we go? Obviously, we would go to war. But with who? How? Why?
Yet, mostly, I was focused on what was happening in that small, dark little house. Every hour was more gruesome than the last. I adored my grandmother. And every single day I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that she would die.
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” -- Jessica Dovey
I was horribly sad. And I would miss my grandmother immensely. I still do. But I was also happy and filled with an odd kind of melancholy joy. I was happy for my grandmother, and my mother and my aunt and uncle, whose recent lives had been little more than marathons of pain.
Death is often cathartic, whether it is the death of a person you deeply love, or an utter monster.
The wars in Afghanistan and (especially) Iraq are unquestionably deeply sad. They have taken so many very young lives away, maimed and destroyed so many healthy bodies, left so many people with physical and psychological scars. No matter your feelings on either, the man who tempted us into both is gone.
And as President Obama wrapped up his remarks, my wife and I lifted our glasses to each other and nodded silently in a grim toast. Our baby daughter lay between us on the couch, sleeping in uncomprehending slumber. She’ll never live in fear of that less-than-a-man. She’ll never know that enemy. And for that, I’m deeply, deeply happy. For that, I feel like rejoicing.