The first ten days were spent in the critical care unit with a bacterial infection chewing on my lungs. Breathing was painful. Coughing incessant. Pneumonia.
Kristen was ten. On a visit she painted my fingernails ten different colors. Some had stars.
There was a painting of a garden on the wall across from my hospital bed. An eighteenth century couple strolled along the path, then they sat on a bench. She wore a gown perhaps made of drapes. He looked for all the world like Rhett Butler. Walking. Moving. Sitting. Standing. They were so real. And then they were gone. The hallucinations were over. I was coming back.
The consensus was that I would live. I was slowing getting better. When I knew for sure that Scarlet and Rhett had never been in that painting, that in fact, no one had ever been in that painting of a garden, I couldn't bare to look at it anymore.
I was moved to a new room, away from the painting of a garden, and the loud-mouthed son of the dying woman in the bed beside me. Now I had a room by myself and a TV high on the wall. People moved about on the screen. Really. Not figments of fever.
I was still wired up. An IV wore out the veins in my left hand, then my arm, then there was an excruciating attempt to put it in my foot. Monitors made zigzag lines above my head. Trapped by wires with no strength to hold a book, I stared at the television.
The Today show. Katie and Matt. A picture of a Tower in New York burning. A plane had crashed into it. A terrible accident. When a second plane hit the other tower, we knew it was no accident. I saw dark specks against the blue sky. No, not specks. People jumping. Not to save themselves, but choosing to die from flight rather than fire.
Over and over for days, I watched the planes hit the towers. A constant loop of tragedy. Sometimes I just looked at my colorful fingernails.
Nearly ten years later, I am alive. There are scars on my right lung and scars on my memory bank. The vision of smoke and crumbling buildings will always be there.
On the night of Kristen's twentieth birthday, President Obama announced that the beast was dead.
The master of vile, the calculator of mayhem, is dead. He didn't spend years living in a cave. He had a comfy compound where he could plan the next killing spree.
Years ago I heard Sherwin Wine give a lecture to my liberal crowd. I don't remember his words, but the gist was that we are naive to think that there should never be wars. There is evil in the world and we can not stand by doing nothing. We can't stand by while the Hitler's out there gas innocent people.
I am a bleeding heart liberal. I am against the death penalty. I'm not fond of wars, but agree with Sherwin Wine. And I am glad we have killed Osama Bin Laden.
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