I’ve waited a few days to write this, mainly because I needed to place some things in their proper perspective and not write with the emotion of the moment. I’ve saved those for Facebook pages and a video of my initial reaction of the incredible news of Osama Bin Laden’s death this past Sunday May 1st. I needed time to put things into place, slot them into their proper compartments and try and write this with as much emotional detachment as I can, but somehow I know that will be impossible in a few paragraphs and most certainly by the end of this post.
For the past three nights, I’ve slept very soundly and with no nightmares for the first time in a decade. The sense of palpable relief and that decade long “waiting to exhale moment” hit me like a ton of bricks on Sunday. At first I broke down upon hearing the news; and I kind of figured that I would. OBL was a man who I wished dead every moment of every day for nearly a decade. Say what you will, call me an inhuman bastard, that I don’t practice what I preach…but I am VERY human, and as such having that bastard get a bullet (or range of bullets as they are now saying) to the head is extremely gratifying. I can’t hide behind any pretense on that simple fact; I’m not going to get up on my Proctor and Ramble soapbox and say that we should never wish anyone dead and OBL is no exception. Well, we SHOULDN’T wish anyone dead…but OLB was always the exception to that rule. I’m not a believer in the death penalty except in only one case: crimes against humanity; my logic being that if a person could be that powerful as to commit atrocities among so many people on this planet then they could be powerful enough to somehow break out of prison (Napoleon, anyone?) and regain or attempt to regain their power and do it all over again. (My preferred method for dealing with murderers is life in solitary with no parole; a living death if you will…much worse than the quick fate we offer them at the hands of the State Executioner. Plus society is being consistent with it’s own laws). We have seen this happen with not only Napoleon, but other tyrants throughout history who were deposed and came back to be as strong or stronger after being sprung from their prison by their followers as most assuredly OBL would have been had he been taken alive. I strongly believe that would have been the case, and we would have had the fish we longed to catch jump back off the boat and into the sea where the odds would have been not in our favor of catching the same fish again. Quite frankly, as much as I believe everyone deserves a fair trial…he already had his. He admitted as much in public that he was responsible for committing not only the two attacks on the World Trade Center, but the USS Cole and other attacks. That is an admission of guilt, which in a court then means you are subject to the judge’s discretion in reading the law and imposing sentence.
There are 3,000 souls who were judge and jury who were screaming “Death!” from the next plane of existence. There were the families of the dead who said the same thing; and then there were those of us who were witness to one of the worst crimes in Human History whose lives (and that of our own families) were irrevocably changed who wanted this man dead. There was no cries for mercy from anyone that I knew of. In fact, I always said if I could have been allowed to slit the man’s throat with a scimitar myself I would gladly do it…no matter how much bad karma it cost me. I have been in Hell for the past ten years: acute PTSD, alcoholism gone unmitigated and even enhanced as a result of 9/11 and a couple of breakdowns along the way, plus a diagnosis of Bipolar II at age 43 which pretty much ended my chances of living normally or having a career in my former field. My children barely got to know their father’s true self; it would appear from time to time but it was always buried under this cloud and fog of 9/11. My oldest will be 14 this coming Saturday and she remembers very little (much to my surprise when I asked her) of what I was like before 9/11. My youngest, born 30 days before the attacks NEVER got a chance to know me as I was…the good part of who I was, anyway. The guy who was fun, funny, and liked a good time. The guy who was responsible. The guy who was a good dad and starting to become a very good one as I started to grow up a bit and settle into my role as father and husband and embrace it more than I ever had previously. My wife got to see the man she married vanish to be replaced by this other being who she didn’t want to know at all anymore. Or even be around for that matter. As much as I suffered over the past ten years, my family suffered even more I think. There was no refuge for them; there was no peace for me…we were all caught in a prison built brick by brick by my decline with a foundation laid by one Osama Bin Laden.
And now, he is gone…body so trashed by American SEAL’s bullets that not even Don Corlione’s favorite undertaker could fix it. Sonny looked a hell of a lot better than Osama did, hence no photos being released of the body. So after they scraped the bastard off the walls and the floor, DNA tested and compared certain records unique to him to ensure his identity, they put what was left of him together and prepared it for a proper burial at sea (where no shrines to martyrdom could be built)…which was more than we could say than he did for 3,000 people who died on 9/11. No stone was left unturned to ensure proper Muslim burial, and they were placed in that body bag and sent along with the vile creature to the bottom of the Arabian Sea where it shall swim with the fishes and have no one but perhaps Luca Brazzi to chat with.
Somewhere between those bullets being fired and the news breaking on Sunday Night, I was starting to write a post here about unfinished business and promises unfulfilled. I go about 800 words in when i stopped for some reason…something told me to wait. A few hours later, my own personal demon was gone. And somewhere in there part of my soul came back. Over the past few days, I’ve been finding things funny that I never would have laughed at a week ago…things that are actually funny that is. In fact, my youngest said something extremely funny yesterday and I laughed deeply and hysterically. She looked at me and said, “Daddy, I never heard you laugh”. Imagine that…your child saying that she never heard you do the simplest of emotions to express joy. “Of course you have, Grace” I said…and she said, “Not like that!” You know, she was right because in retrospect my laughs were never that hard for a decade. My joy was never there even when I felt a little bit…it was always forced. But somehow, I’m getting that back…and it came very naturally and through the simple joke (very clever and Irish wit entwined) thanks to a 9 year old. I’ve been hugging my kids like crazy the past two days, because I feel like they have not had their father…their REAL father…around them in a very, very long time. My wife and I still have work to do on a very fractured marriage thanks to the stresses of the past ten years and the non-person I had become. But slowly and surely, it’s starting to germinate in me like a seed in the spring…and how appropriate that OBL’s end was on Beltane, the Pagan spring festival. It was also on the first anniversary of my father’s death, a relationship that was always rocky where I had many regrets and in many ways I was starting to become that which I rebelled against and resented. In the midst of my melancholy and pensiveness came this incredible news…and somehow some new light was being shed on my own father’s relationship with me because of what he had to go through in the Korean War (which was far more extensive than I ever could have imagined).
Somehow, slowly and surely I plan on taking that which was best in me before 9/11 and try and reconcile it with who I am now. I’ve had a lot of revelations about myself and my place in this world and the state of humanity because I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate hid away from the rest of humanity in a darkened basement den…because I was not only afraid of my own shadow, I was afraid of the world…
…and somehow, I am no longer afraid of sunlight.
“We don’t have to live in a world
Where we give bad names to beautiful things
We should live in a beautiful world
We should give beautiful a second chance
And the leaves fall from red to brown
To be trodden down
And the leaves turn green to red to brown
Fall to the ground
And get kicked around
You strong enough to be
Have you the courage to be
Have you the faith to be
Honest enough to stay
Don’t have to be the same
Don’t have to be this way
C’mon and sign your name
You wild enough to remain beautiful?
-lyrics by Steve Hogarth from the song, “Beautiful” by Marillion