“Not proud of this,” a friend wrote to me in a text message mere minutes after the news broke on Wednesday, “but feeling really good about Rush Limbaugh dying.”

I understood. I myself wasn’t mourning the passing of a man who had been so contemptuous of people who didn’t share his political views, so prone to cruel mockery, so proudly prejudiced, so recklessly divisive. In his last months he sought to undermine democracy by ardently promoting the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen from his beloved Donald Trump. The world will hardly be worse for Limbaugh’s absence.

But it’s the “not proud” part of my friend’s message that compels me to share it. It’s the “not proud” part that makes him one of my nearest and dearest. He’s a humanist, he’s decent, and he was acknowledging that death isn’t a moment for rejoicing or gloating — that the only thing served by that is our own debasement. He was making clear that what he was confiding to me he wouldn’t be stitching on a throw pillow, posting on Facebook or putting in a headline.