It has not been quite three weeks since Twitter, Facebook, et alia, silenced Donald Trump by cutting out his digital tongue.
And it has only been a few days since he shuffled off to Mar-a-Lago in the company of his weeping adult children and his indifferent trophy wife, leaving any positive legacy he might have hoped for in smoldering ruins.
His downfall was an outcome I (in my own small way) worked for indefatigably, prayed for assiduously, waited for patiently, and welcomed joyously.
Yet, I am surprised to discover that I miss him.
Not in the sense of wanting to see him in all of his bloated belligerence or wanting to read one of his vituperative, semi-literate tweets or wanting to listen to one of his god-awful word salads, but in the sense that his going has left a void in my life of which I am increasingly conscious.
I cannot in my long life remember ever actually hating anyone, at least not any American. Other than Donald Trump, that is. I hate him.
For five and a half years, I have suffered from Trump Derangement Syndrome, a condition that in its most virulent manifestation, of which I am a perfect case study, consumes too much of almost every day and literally deforms life in numerous ways.
The costs of the disease are significant, whether measured in terms of lost perspective, elevated blood pressure, or the number of former friends and estranged family members.
Yet I regret nothing.
The hatred filled me with unaccustomed passion, and it provided me with purpose and direction, things too often missing in quotidian concerns. I have been alive and engaged, writing op-eds, giving interviews to the press, posting on social media, appearing on talk shows, talking politics with strangers in grocery store parking lots.
I had a mission, and my colors were nailed to the mast. No quarter was asked and none was given.
But now the battle, if not the war, is won, and the constant adrenalin high that sustained former Republican NeverTrump Ronin like me for so long is abating, at least in my case.
Yes, the madness of Marjorie Taylor Green, the buffoonery of the Matt Gaetz, the oleaginous obsequiousness of Lindsey Graham, and the sycophancy of Ron DeSantis still demand the attention and exertions of men and women of goodwill everywhere, and I will do my part to help anathematize them and all of their fellow collaborators with bell, book, and candle, but they collectively do not hold a patch to Donald Trump when it comes to posing an existential threat to American democracy or getting the heart of an old patriot pumping.
The analogy that comes to me when I am walking my dog, Chester, in the morning and feeling that something is not quite right is to the hole that was in me when I came home from war a little more than half a century ago.
Life was, of course, immeasurably better once I was back, but it was a monochrome and insipid existence compared to Chu Lai and Da Nang.
The fervent anti-war demonstrations I watched on the University of Florida campus where I was a twenty-one-year-old freshman were exciting, but not like an emergency extract from a hot landing zone.
The girls, the booze, and the drugs were exhilarating, but not like the prolonged rush that was the Tet Offensive. Adjustments were required.
So, I filled the hole that war left with a new life.
It took time, but I weaned myself off adrenalin. I developed different behaviors, found other purposes, and experienced new satisfactions. I managed to go from feral to conventional without too many detours, much to the relief of my family and friends.
Similarly, I may need a new life now. Take up chess. Work on my execrable French. Make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Read more. Play bridge again.
Or perhaps Trump will escape from Elba — I mean Mar-a-Lago — and figuratively march on Washington, in which case I will be able to forego struggling with French and learning the Ruy Lopez opening and fling myself on him one more time in the virtual company of my NeverTrump compatriots.
For the sake of the country, I do not wish it, but I am ready for it.
After all, the hole in me is Trump-shaped.