I’ve been thinking about “Slaughterhouse-Five” the last few days. In particular I’ve been thinking about the strange behavior of Billy Pilgrim. His feelings about his candy bar eating wife. His indifference about his affair. And finally the coming in and out of reality toward the end of the book. When I first read the book it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I couldn’t understand why he just didn’t care. Why he didn’t engage in his life. Why nothing seemed to matter.
But with Veteran’s day drawing near Billy Pilgrim has, once again, been on my mind. Of course he would be disengaged. How else could you “move on?” How could you begin to care about curtains, dinner parties, Christmas presents, parent/teacher conferences (etc) when you have seen what those men had seen? The answer is simple: you couldn’t.
I know it is an unfair comparison but the closest I’ve been to those feelings were after I’ve lost people close to me: ie: my father and my two year old nephew. After my father died I didn’t want to go on. How could I? One of the main characters in my life story was gone. After my nephew tragically died life no longer made sense. How could someone so innocent be taken? How could I watch my sister suffer so and be the same? How was I supposed to ever smile, laugh or be happy again? While those pains have faded and only occasionally bring me to my knees now I can only imagine magnifying that times, I don’t know, a million maybe, then trying to live my life in a world full of inconsequential things.
Right now all I want to do is say thank you. Thank you and and I’m sorry. I’m sorry to those who didn’t come back and I’m sorry to those who did but were not, could not, be the same. I’m sorry to those who served, and to your families. I’m sorry to your wives who had strangers come home to them. I’m sorry to those me who couldn’t engage again.
I know it’s not enough. It will never be enough but it’s all I’ve got. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your gift of freedom that we all take advantage of. Thank you to your families and friends. Parents and children. Thank you to all those who sacrificed so much more than we can imagine for this country that we live in.
Happy Veteran’s Day.