Tuesday, May 3, 2011

She's On Her Way Back

Once she stopped being miserable, she was the happiest baby alive.

Zanner gave her a pizza crust to stop the whimpering and fussing and suddenly her entire demeanor changed.  She relaxed in my arms, gnawed on the second serving of real food she'd ever had in her life, and joined the party.  

The kid went from rice cereal to Giordano's deep dish in one afternoon.  She went from infancy to full participant in the span of a few hours.  She left cranky behind and became a  bundle of smiles.

Everyone agreed.  A teammate of Big Cuter, two years her senior and clued in to everything, spent the car-pool-trip-I-drove between school and the field lost in thought.  The gossip in the back seat had turned to someone "even Little Cuter doesn't like" and he was flummoxed.  He couldn't think of anyone she didn't like.  

There were only four words on her yearbook's Senior Page : Don't Worry.  Be Happy.

It was her mantra and she lived by it, spreading joy in her wake.  Who wouldn't want to spend time around her?  She was so happy herself it made everyone else smile, too.

Don't imagine that there weren't bumps, pot-holes, rabbit holes along the way, for there certainly were.  But her default mode was sunshine and kindness.  The world would be a better place for her having passed through it - she was conscious of that as her mission in life.  Not giddy or frivolous or unaware, but thoughtfully delighted in the world around her, she was genuinely kind and friendly.

And then I got shot.

She, who had always cautioned me to be nicer to the person on the other end of the phone found herself shrieking at a Customer Service Representative from a major airline.  "Don't you have a freakin' mother?????" was among the milder of the epithets she hurled at the poor Pakistani who was unable or unwilling to book her on a flight to my bedside.  

Rage was starting to rear its ugly head.  It would be her constant companion for the next 4 months.  

This delightfully cheerful person started steaming and screaming at the most minor of inconveniences; a door not held for her entry would put her over the edge.  How rude.  How inconsiderate.  How indicative of the sorry state of mankind in general and you, sir, in particular.  Don't you know what happened in my life?  Don't you care?

She wondered who she'd become.  Embracing the bitch helped a little, but there was always the disconnect between who she had been and who she was now.  She didn't really like this furious person, although she totally understood her and was able to give her permission to inhabit her own personal space.  But it was odd.  She didn't like it but it was real and what could she do but ride the wave?

Then bin Laden got shot.

Big Cuter's text message alerted her as SIR was climbing a metal giraffe (please, don't ask) and the hooting and hollering began.  Proud to be Americans!  Proud to have rid the world of evil! Proud to have mounted a successful covert mission!  Proud that Osama bin Laden is dead....

And that stopped her in her tracks.  It felt weird to be celebrating the end of a human life.  On the other hand, she had someone else those commandos could take out and if she only had an address...... And that felt ugly, too.

Sympathy for the devil?  There was no doubt in her mind that these two had damaged the world that she loved in ways that could not be repaired.  Ever.  By anyone.  They had forfeited their right to live in that world, and she could rejoice in the fact that one of them was gone. But she had so recently bumped up against the death of a little girl she knew and had felt her own personal mother brush up against death and she  found that she just couldn't be blase about the experience.

A human being was dead.  Her heart ached for that fact.  

Americans killed bin Laden.  Her heart soared with pride.

I'm looking at it from a mother's point of view.  My little girl is healing.  Her PTSD-fueled rage at the world is receding just a bit.  There, around the edges of the fiery red ball which has been living in her gut since January 8th, there is a small space peeking through.  A little bit of kindness is seeping around the edges.

Kindness toward bin Laden?  Kinda sorta, I think.  He was a bad seed and evil incarnate and we all get that.  American military might and intelligence ended his involvement in the world, and that is a good thing.  3000 souls have a sense of closure.

But it still feels weird to celebrate a death.  Her heart is touched and she's troubled.  

And that's my little girl. 

She arrived at work and the headlines seemed to mock her.   The Financial Times had the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kissing.  The Wall Street Journal had bin Laden's demise.  This was her life, tumbling between weddings and gunshots.  Happy and confused and relieved and bemused. 

Ain't adulthood grand?
I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure. -- Mark Twain (via @AlgonquinBooks)


  1. AB, I'm not into celebrating Bin Laden's death either. It seems really weird to jump for joy for someone being dead--even though he was a monster. Don't get me wrong... I'm glad he's gone, but to be celebrating in the streets seems rather crass to me. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that he could have done so much good and yet did so much evil and it was a wasted life. Just as HWSBS has done.

    We all have the potential to give and make this world a better place and then there are people that just want wreak havoc and sorrow. It's hard to come to grips with that sort of mentality. I was taught at a very young age to be tolerant and giving. To try and do your best and to treat others how you want to be treated.

    As for Little Cuter, it does sound like she's coming out of the fog. That's a good, but I think she has every right to be mad. Someone shot her mother FGS; anyone else in her situation would be angry at everyone and the world. And because she loves you so much, she wants to protect you just as much as you have protected her all her life.

    You both are going to be alright, but don't feel you have to justify or not feel anger or want to hit the wall. Get it out and if you want to scream at the top of your lungs, do it. It will be cathartic.

    Sending hugs to the whole AB family.

    Megan xxx

  2. The ones I saw celebrating seemed to me more like at the end of WWII. It's not the end of terrorism but it's the end of someone who ordered the most attacks and against innocents always who had had nothing to do with what his grievance was. I might not have wished him dead, never thought of that but am glad now that he is and that we don't have to live through years of his trials. I hope soon we won't be hearing about him at all. In the Middle East, he had become a symbol to some of them of infallibility. That has happened in the past with war leaders and people will follow them to do anything. That kind of mythology needs to be ended whether by capture or death.

    Maddow had a clip on her news program of the people on the street in DC singing Star Spangled Banner (rather roughly). That says to me this is as much about feeling good about their country as anything. bin Laden went out as he would have wished-- fast and in battle. In his mind he was going straight to heaven for his reward. Who knows what he really got.

  3. Awwww. I'm invariably surprised to see myself quoted. But if it's gonna happen I'd much rather it be in re-quoting Mark Twain than, say, uttering something original but boobish. :)

    So very happy to hear that some light is starting to peek through the cracks in LC's brittle anger. I know I don't have to tell you this, but the long-term furious response to tragedy and the world's madnesses, way too often, leads to bitterness and an early exit. Or, worse, to Republicanism. :) It'd be really ironic (unpleasantly so) if an actual literal hair trigger created in her a permanent figurative one.

    (I follow Steve Martin on Twitter. At some point yesterday, he offered a tweet which went something like this: "Went fishing in north Arabian Sea today. Suddenly felt Osama Bin Laden fall on my head. THAT SETTLES IT. NO MORE POT." Ha!)

    My kid brother emailed me this morning, just venting (his word). He'd read the Twain quote and posted it as a comment on a couple friends' FB updates yesterday. I'm not sure what he meant by this, but he reported that they hadn't appreciated his doing so. And he went on to tell me that yes, he's glad OBL is dead because he deserved to die, if you live by the sword you die that way, so on and so forth. (This both (a) surprised me and (b) didn't, because Mike is (a) a kind, sweet guy and (b) sometimes almost too intense, for lack of a better word.) His reasoning in this rant was tied to the difference between OBL's quote-unquote "God" vs. his -- Mike's -- God.

    I told him that arguing about God is like the blind guys arguing about the elephant. Even if you -- gripping the tail -- somehow manage to convince the other guy that you believe you're holding a snake, he himself won't believe it as long as he's leaning up against the creature's massive flank.

    Then I hit Send, and since then I've been worrying that I came across as holier-than-thou and all, y'know, Desiderata. Sigh.

  4. That is why Little Cuter is Little Cuter...... and that is why we love her sooooooo much!!!

  5. Oh, MOTG, this is going to be the best wedding, the best merging of families, ever!

    And yes, JES, the "brittle anger" is a perfect construct. I'm not too worried about Republicanism, though.

  6. I love Little Cuter even more for her profound ambivalence.

    I got a letter from my new DIL (almost a YEAR into this new relationship) saying she was worried that she was abnormal because her friends were doing some virtual cheering on FB, while her own primary response was sadness about the aggressive nature of mankind and the whole OBL story, front to back.

    My response was that her response was NORMAL, if not average. Little Cuter ain't average, but she grows more her normal, heart-felt self daily. I'm so glad.


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