When Billy Pilgrim's name was inscribed in the ledger of the prison camp, he was given a number, too, and an iron dogtag in which that number was stamped. A slave laborer from Poland had done the stamping. He was dead now. So it goes.
Billy was told to hang the tag around his neck along with his American dogtags, which he did. The tag was like a salt cracker, perforated down its middle so that a strong man could snap it in two with his bare hands. In case Billy died, which he didn't, half of the tag would mark his body and half would mark his grave.
After poor Edgar Derby, the high school teacher, was shot in Dresden later on, a doctor pronounced him dead and snapped his dogtag in two. So it goes.
Death is inevitable, without meaning in Vonnegut's universe. It happens, and life goes on. The guy from Poland dies. Edgar Derby dies. Billy doesn't. The luck of the draw. Billy's dogtag remains in tact. So it doesn't go.
Don't worry. I am not going to spend this entire blog post contemplating the capriciousness of the Grim Reaper. I covered that ground last night, and I didn't come to any conclusion, other than the fact that God's plan is pretty mysterious. And it sucks for us humans sometimes.
I can't go around all day worrying about my brother's inevitable end. Or mine. If I did that, I really wouldn't be able to enjoy life at all. That is not a profound statement. Pretty much every sitcom, from The Honeymooners to The Big Bang Theory, has an episode dealing with that little nugget of wisdom. Sheldon had to deal with Professor Proton's death. Sam Malone had to deal with Coach's death. I could go on.
I have more immediate worries, though. Getting a haircut. Finishing this post. Adding stuff to my online class. All these things I need to get done tonight. I have control over them. Tomorrow, when my alarm goes off, I will have a whole other set of worries. Breakfast. Work. More online crap. A dirty bathroom to clean. More posts.
I don't know when I'm going to die. Nobody does. I don't know when my brother is going to die. Perhaps that's Vonnegut's point. Do your best. Enjoy life. Tomorrow many not come. Like I said, it's not very deep. But it's all I've got.
Saint Marty will be thankful for sleep tonight.