The title of William Rivers Pitt’s unpublished book about the pandemic is: Please Take This, I Love You, and I Might Die. A COVID Diary.He sent me the manuscript quite a while ago so that I could review it and offer my input on whether it would make sense to have it published.
Will was able, as he was always able, to see the pandemic coming and to anticipate its consequences. He also knew the potential for catastrophic consequences and acted accordingly. Each of these things is a true gift. The ability to see the future and to be able to anticipate it. COVID-19 was Will’s case. He was taking extra precautions to protect his mother, who suffers from lung problems, and his young daughter Lola. Perhaps subconsciously foreshadowing his own death, he was also making preparations for the future.
Will’s unpublished book is dedicated to Lola.
I met Will during the U.S. occupation in Iraq’s early years. We were both deeply affected by the propaganda leading to the invasion. It ignored 12 years of U.S.-imposed sanctions which had strangled the country and killed at most half a million children. Will had already written a book.War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You To Know) that completely disassembled the lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction, upon which the entire justification for the illegal invasion and occupation was predicated. He had done everything he could. But he was not going stop taking on the Bush administration. Will was in fact just warming up.
We met in Boston just a few years after the occupation began. Will was already one my heroes, one the few voices of reason and sanity in the U.S. media. I was reading his valiant, noble, fiery words toward that end for years, and he had been reading my articles from Iraq about the widespread death and destruction then unfolding — death and destruction he had done all he could to prevent, a deep and lasting friendship was born on the spot, one that would also yield a coauthored book published by this website, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: The Disintegration of a Nation, Why it is Happening, and Who is Responsible.
I continued my journeys in and out of Iraq throughout the years. Will continued to write his salvos about the Bush and Obama administrations’ actions in Iraq. He also covered the domestic political situation and wrote as if his life depended upon it. The many times I became dispirited while on the front lines of the brutal occupation, I would read Will’s latest column about whatever the Bush administration was doing to justify their ongoing atrocities in Iraq, and my fire to continue my work would be fed yet again.
Truly one of the most important public intellectuals, writers and commentators of our time, in losing Will, we’ve lost a voice that is irreplaceable, and I’ve lost one of my heroes.
Late August, Will sent me an email about his unpublished book. I wrote this to him:
I’m only part way through your book. Two months ago I lost my long-time climbing partner of 25 years in a rock fall accident…we were roped up…his body was literally hanging off me…so I’ve been in a deep grieving process this summer, otherwise I’d have already torn through your book.
We are grateful for your service brother.
Which Will replied:
WHAT THE FUCK
Oh Jesus Dahr! I am So sorry.
The inchoate universe places its stamp on certain people every now and then, and it is often a woeful person. The stamp signifies that you are to suffer: To be affected by outside forces and to feel an inner need to understand it or make some use of it. That stamp is a wailing from the soul. Bodhisattvas are Buddhists who cross the threshold to enlightenment, but return for others, to help them, rather than to pass over them. It is a terrible fate because it brings wisdom.
Fuck my book. Stay on the mountain. The wind knows your name.
While I thought he’d gone too far with the Bodhisattva bit, I wrote him back and thanked him, from my heart, for his gracious words of comfort. These words, like everything else he wrote were borne out of his heart, soul, and personal experience. Will was, in his own words, a Bodhisattva. His wisdom and seeing were there to guide us all.
“We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising,” Will wrote in February 2019. “Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time…. The road we have traveled is littered in bones and sorrow. The road ahead of us is unfamiliar, new, dangerous, and challenging. There are no promises, other than it will be — by dint of our collective will — better than the way that is failing before our eyes. This crossroads is freedom distilled, and the time to choose is now.”
Will is now on the path each of us will inevitably take. He taught us how live a noble lifestyle. He made a living speaking truth and power. These things he did for us all, and because they were his to do. He did them because it was possible.
Most importantly, he did it because he knew they were the right thing to do.