On the eighth day, the forty-year-old hobo said to Billy, "This ain't bad. I can be comfortable anywhere."
"You can?" said Billy.
On the ninth day, the hobo died. So it goes. His last words were, "You think this is bad? This ain't bad."
There was something about death and the ninth day. There was a death on the ninth day in the car ahead of Billy's too. Roland Weary died--of gangrene that had started in his mangled feet. So it goes.
Weary, in his nearly continuous delirium, told again and again of the Three Musketeers, acknowledged that he was dying, gave many messages to be delivered to his family in Pittsburgh. Above all, he wanted to be avenged, so he said again and again the name of the person who had killed him. Everyone in the car learned the lesson well.
"Who killed me?" he would ask.
And everybody knew the answer, which was this: "Billy Pilgrim."
Roland Weary blames Billy for everything. For breaking up the Three Musketeers, although there never was a Three Musketeers. For being captured by the Germans, although Roland was the person beating the hell out of Billy--loudly-- when their captors appeared. For contracting gangrene, although it was a German commander who confiscated Roland's boots. Billy is Roland's scapegoat.
I guess everybody looks for someone to blame when bad luck and tragedy strike. I try not to live like that. It doesn't do any good expending so much energy on anger and hatred and guilt. But, it's a very human reaction to negative circumstances, I guess.
My sister, Sally, has been dead going on two years. The process of her illness was long and difficult. She was not actually diagnosed with brain lymphoma, the disease that killed her, until a few months before her passing. Like I said, long and difficult.
My oldest sister blames a lot of people for Sally's death. She blames doctors and hospitals, specialists and caretakers. And she blames herself. She has convinced herself that, if she had been more aggressive in seeking treatment for Sally, Sally would be alive today. In reality, Sally had a life-limiting condition. Nobody is to blame for her death.
Now, my sister would probably argue with me on this point. That's okay. She's still grieving, stuck someplace between anger and depression. Like Roland, she needs somebody to blame for a horrible circumstance. Until she lets go of her anger and guilt, my sister will never be truly happy or at peace. And Sally would never have wanted this for her.
I am in a better place than my sister. I still experience bouts of anger and sadness and guilt, but I can't spend my life in those states. It would kill me, and I am not ready to give up on life just yet. I want to at least live long enough to see Donald Trump impeached and/or jailed.
Today, Saint Marty is thankful for small joys--sunshine, biscuits, cold water, and Christmas music.