Thingish Things


Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - May• 03•11

I had a philosophy professor in college named James P. Carse who said something in class one day that I’ve always remembered.

His best friend had died some weeks before at Beth Israel Hospital. She had been married to another friend of the professor’s for 25 years, and throughout the marriage the couple had been fighting. On any given morning, one friend or the other might be found on the Carse’s pull-out couch, where he or she, key in hand, had sought refuge from spousal hostilities the night before.

Both Professor Carse and his friend’s husband were at her side when she died. Her last words spoken were to her husband: “All my life,” she said holding his hand, “you have been my very best friend.” It was the last thing she said.

And here’s the point that has remained with me for going on 30 years:  “It was the way the marriage ended that defined the whole of it,” Carse observed. “Had it concluded in a fight or in some other way, the whole of it would be affected.” In other words, endings are definitional. They matter even more than beginnings.

I immediately thought of this Sunday night when my wife alerted me to Bin Laden’s death. This was the ending we required. This is the ending that will historically define the last 10 years of U.S. history.   Those shaky moments in Iraq in the Spring of ’06 and the Taliban claw backs in Afghanistan no longer matter. This story is concluded.

The clock will keep ticking; the fight will go on against Islamic terrorism, but the book on  9/11 has been shut. It is now whole.


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