Stephen Chernin, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Nearly 10 years after his wife was killed at the World Trade Center, Charles Wolf still falls asleep each night on one side of his bed.
On Monday, news of the death of the man who helped orchestrate that emptiness brought Wolf a muted joy. He declared himself glad it was finally over — still aware that, for him, it never really can be.
"This is a feeling of happiness, but not jump-up-and-down happiness," said Wolf, who lost his wife, Katherine, in the attacks. "The idea of closure is something that really, really — it doesn't exist, to tell you the truth."
Family members of those lost on Sept. 11 reflected Monday on a decade of grief that cannot be erased by any worldly victory. Still, the death of the shadowy figure who had taken pleasure in their sorrow brought some a sense of relief.
"I'd like to think that all the people who were murdered on Sept. 11 are celebrating," said Maureen Santora, whose firefighter son, Christopher, was killed in the collapsed towers. She said she knows her son, who died at age 23, would have been "dancing in the streets" at word of bin Laden's death.
"I can hear him up in heaven yelling and screaming. I can see him being just thrilled."
But she, too, said there would be no closure for her. Instead, "There will be a hole in my heart until the day I die," she said.
When he heard of bin Laden's death, Mike Low went into the bedroom that had belonged to his daughter Sara before the flight attendant was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 11. He sat down in front of a glass case holding his daughter's remains, and he told her the news.
"For my family and I, it's good, it's desirable, it's right," said the Batesville, Ark., resident. "It certainly brings an ending to a major quest for all of us."
Whatever the feelings brought up by the close of the hunt for bin Laden, victory was absent for Gene Yancey, who remains haunted by thoughts of the last minutes of his daughter Kathryn L. LaBorie, who was the head flight attendant on United Airlines Flight 175.
"Justice has prevailed, I guess," said the Colorado Springs, Colo., resident. "It's good in a lot of ways and I'm glad they got him, but I'm so sad about my daughter."
Others relished what felt like a touch of retribution after years of delay.
"I would hope that Osama bin Laden was subject to the same brutal and prolonged death that my son and all the other victims had on 9/11," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son, Christian, died at the World Trade Center.
Wolf said he first learned of bin Laden's death when a friend telephoned him Sunday night, saying excitedly: "You know that guy that killed your wife. They got him!"
After that, he said, he had chills for an hour or two — a "tingling, tingling all over me."
"There's one man, there's one piece of evil energy — tremendously evil energy — that is off of this planet," Wolf said. "It is out of this physical realm and God will throw his soul in hell, the depths of hell. And you can be sure of that. There's no court on earth that could have done what the final judge has done."
Still, none of that changes the lingering sense of absence at night, as he makes room for the woman who is no longer there.
"That other side is empty still," he said. "I still miss her."
Associated Press videojournalist Bonny Ghosh and writers Verena Dobnik and Tom McElroy contributed to this report from New York, as did Nomaan Merchant in Little Rock, Ark., and Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I.
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