One. This one death is a fiction; borne of pain; borne of truth.
One man died. I was not shot by a U.S. soldier. I was not assassinated. I was not a victim of Al Qaeda. I didn't die of poor medical care. My death was not the result of a curfew keeping me from the hospital. I was not killed because of my religious beliefs.
I had been a sports figure before the U.S. invasion and occupation. My immediate family was moderately well-off, modestly religious, and mildly modern. My two daughters were pushed hard to do well in school, and they did just that. My wife had been an engineer but gave it up to be home with the girls, and loved the domestic side of the world. Really. She was so happy! That didn't prevent her from spending lots of time at the homes of her sisters and friends, often staying a few days while I tended the home fires. I was quite the good hands in cooking.
Then the madness of war took the peace, the jobs, the safety, the electricity, the water, the sense of hope...
A few years ago, after selling most of the furniture, rugs, and other items of value, I finally found a job. The wife pleaded with me not to take up such a profession. The extended family raged against my decision. Relatives near and far urged me to think again; anything but this.
What could I do? I saw no choice so I became a policeman.
I had a salary. I had reason to hope for a better tomorrow. The girls got new clothes; and little by little there was furniture coming into the house, but none of this was joyous for me. I had no time for joy. My heart was filled with fear. I am Sunni, which matters now since my neighborhood is mostly Shi'a. I am a policeman, a target, a walking target.
Assassinating policemen had become common in my area. Once I broke from habit and went home for a meal instead of joining my comrades at a restaurant. A few of them died when a bomber chose that place as a target. I was torn with guilt. I was tormented by the thought that my family would be left without me should I be killed. I became ever watchful in a way that left no room for any sort of relaxation. I could not go shopping with my family. I could no longer drive the girls to school for fear that they would be harmed in an attack on me.
I developed a heart condition. The doctors said it was from stress. It got worse. I becoame obsessed with my heart, with the danger, with everything but the joy of life. Then I had a massive heart attack and died.
"I am relieved for him. His life was a torture. Now he can rest in peace. Inshallah."
So add this one to the all the numbers. When they ask you where you got the numbers for the innocent civilians killed as a result of the U.S. occupation, remember me.