"Where am I?" said Billy Pilgrim.
"Trapped in another blob of amber, Mr. Pilgrim. We are where we have to be just now--three hundred million miles from Earth, bound for a time warp which will get us to Tralfamadore in hours rather than centuries."
"How--how did I get here?"
"It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this even is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber."
"You sound to me as though you don't believe in free will," said Billy Pilgrim.
Billy Pilgrim doesn't understand Tralfamadorian time. Yet. Perhaps he has to live his life in a straight line, from beginning to end, before becoming chronologically unstuck. I've been talking about amber moments most of this week. Birth next to death next to last night's poetry reading next to high school graduation. That's Vonnegut's concept of time in Slaughterhouse.
I apologize for my absence last night from blogging. I was actually on a flying saucer, half-way to Tralfamdore. Then I was getting drunk with a bunch of writing tutors before I graduated from college. Then I was giving a poetry reading at the Joy Center in Ishpeming. If you were present at the reading, we had a great time doing the time warp, reminiscing about the old days, talking about kids and grandkids and kindergarten. And reading some poems.
When I got home, my daughter had claimed my laptop for homework. Therefore, I had no opportunity to blog last night or give an update on my brother's health status.
My brother was in the operating room for four hours having stents placed in his heart. His doctors were really pleased with how his surgery went. However, my brother is having lots of trouble breathing. He's constantly short of breath. His doctors have no idea what is the cause of this problem, so now my brother is being transferred to a hospital in Ann Arbor (not the University of Michigan, but a facility close by).
Another amber moment in life. The thing that bothers me about this amber is that it reminds me of the last few months of my sister's life, where she was shuttled from nursing home to hospital to the University of Michigan to home. It also reminds me of my other brother who passed away about three years ago, from complications of a stroke and diabetes. In short, I am concerned.
If I was Tralfmadorian, I wouldn't really be worried. I would have died this morning, come back for lunch, and tonight I would be driving my wife home from the hospital with our newborn daughter. I find that notion oddly comforting, thinking of death as just another event, not more or less important than the scrambled eggs I ate for breakfast this past Easter. No end. Just a series of "and this." You know what I mean--this happened, AND THIS happened, AND THIS happened . . . You get the idea.
I am going to try to adopt a Tralfamdorian outlook for this evening. My brother's trip downstate is simply a bug in amber. Not earth-shattering or dreadful. Just something that has to happen before the next amber moment.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for the amber of poetry at the Joy Center last night.