Osama bin Laden is Dead

A Special Report…5…4…3…2…1…

and then…

Osama bin Laden is dead!

I expected something other than the complex and conflicting emotions running through me.

Joy really wasn’t one of them. How can you feel joy when someone has gone so far off the rails and caused so much tragedy and pain? No joy wasn’t it.

Closure? Can there be closure? What does closure look like? How am I feeling this morning? No I’m not feeling closure. Quite the opposite. I’m reliving every moment of that morning on September 11, 2001. Will that bring closure? Perhaps.

Photo of 9/11 Fireman's Memorial
9/11 Fireman’s Memorial

I’m thinking about what a glorious September day it was, electric company workers a couple of houses down. The radio…did I hear that right? A plane flew into what???

Watching with horror, and I’ll admit a bit of morbid fascination, as a second plane flew into the other tower. Calling my sister. Emails out to make sure none of ours had been hurt. They were safe as far as anyone knew. A cousin, it turns out, escaped.

The weeks and months following. The news coverage. The wrong war. The terror alerts.

My puppy was 7 months old then so we were out walking about 2 hours a day. We often walked by the house of one of the 9/11 widows. I didn’t know her but every time we walked by, I’d think about those planes. I’d wonder how she was doing. I’d wonder if her child had been born. I’d wonder what it was like for her. And I’d say a little prayer.

In the first few days, her house sat silent and shuttered. A light was almost always burning in a single room downstairs when we walked by at night but all was quiet. Slowly, ever so slowly, the house seemed to be coming back to life. Maybe it was my imagination but it felt like something had shifted and then the swing set appeared in the yard. Yes, life was moving on for her and her children, but at such great cost.

So is there closure today? I’ve moved on. Though Boston is an easy drive from where I live now, I no longer live just outside the city from which the planes departed. I’ve moved on. My family’s moved on.

We had our own tragedy unfolding during that time…a father with Alzheimer’s…a different storyline entirely from 9/11 but in simultaneous process. He died shortly after we invaded Iraq.

While the workers at Ground Zero sifted through the rubble, I was sifting through the remnants of my childhood, the lives of my parents and grandparents as I dismantled the house in which I’d grown up.

Osama bin Laden is dead!

It’s like pulling on a thread bringing back a multitude of memories and emotions, but closure? No act of retribution, of justice served, of punishment given, can bring closure.

We look at these things as some sort of holy grail that will make us feel able to move on, but we’re moving on no matter what. We already have.

So today, as many of my fellow countrymen celebrate, I find myself remembering all the small and sordid details of that day and the days that followed. They are taking on the irony of memory…alive and fresh as if they just happened and feeling like a lifetime ago, snippets of a distant dream…or nightmare.

Maybe some new realization or perspective will emerge from this trip down memory lane. Aha moments do happen years after the fact, but closure?

Osama bin Laden is dead.

The saddest part is that he isn’t. He lives on in all of us. He has irrevocably changed our lives.

Innocence was shattered on 9/11. Our collective innocence was demolished that day whether we were personally impacted or not. It’s certainly not how we would have chosen it. The truth in the shattering of innocence is never welcome.

Yet, innocence shattered is a necessary step on the path to maturity.

Coming face to face with death is one of the mile stones we all must pass as we grow into fully mature human beings. It is never welcome. Not ever. Each and every one of us rails against it. An understandable reaction, yet…

At some level, the continued anguish over this fundamental fact of life is in many ways a refusal to ripen. Denial can be a wonderful thing at times but denying the fact of death, as much a part of life as birth, crosses the line from denial into delusion. And it keeps at us until we surrender to the truth…we are going to die. People we love are going to die. It is the way of life and love and all of existence.

Yes, Osama may be dead but we still live.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay 

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2 thoughts on “Osama bin Laden is Dead”

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    Yes, the events of last week dredged up many conflicting and painful memories. I wound up blogging about it three times, on the ‘myth’ of closure. So many people, reliving not just that horrible, beautiful day, but the days after. I’m off to NYC next week, related to my book, and will spend at least two days on 9/11-related research. It may be an even more difficult trip than being there for the 9th anniversary, but a good preparation for the 10th.

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