Billy dozed, awakened in the prison hospital again. The sun was high. Outside were Golgotha sounds of strong men digging holes for upright timbers in hard, hard ground. Englishmen were building themselves a new latrine. They had abandoned their old latrine to the Americans--and their theater, the place where the feast had been held, too.
Six Englishmen staggered through a hospital with a pool table on which several mattresses were piled. They were transferring it to living quarters attached to the hospital. They were followed by an Englishman dragging his mattress and carrying a dartboard.
The man with the dartboard was the Blue Fairy Godmother who had injured little Paul Lazzaro. He stopped by Lazzaro's bed, asked Lazzaro how he was.
Lazzaro told him he was going to have him killed after the war.
"You made a big mistake," said Lazzaro. "Anybody touches me, he better kill me, or I'm gonna have him killed."
The Blue Fairy Godmother knew something about killing. He gave Lazzaro a careful smile. "There is still time for me to kill you," he said, "if you really persuade me that it's the sensible thing to do."
"Why don't you go fuck yourself?"
"Don't think I haven't tried," the Blue Fairy Godmother answered.
There's a lot of death talk in this passage. Lazzaro wants the Blue Fairy Godmother dead. The Blue Fairy Godmother jokes about killing Lazzaro. In the middle of a prisoner of war camp, death is inescapable. On top of it all, Lazzaro is in the hospital, recuperating from injuries inflicted on him by the Blue Fairy Godmother. Lazzaro and the Blue Fairy are supposed to be allies, fighting Nazis. Yet, they hate each other. As Vonnegut often says about death, so it goes.
I went to a funeral this afternoon for the brother of one of my best friends. The brother was exactly two days older than me. When I opened the program for the service, that was the first thing I noticed. The ashes in the urn were just as old as me.
It was a beautiful service, full of music and chanting and funny stories and prayer. Yes, it was sad at points. But, for the most part, it was about laughter and gratitude for a life well-lived. My friend's brother faced many challenges in his life, but he met those challenges head-on. He didn't let his limitations limit him, and I find that inspiring.
The funeral also reminded me how important it is to celebrate all the blessings of my life. I am really lucky. Starting this afternoon, I am on vacation. I don't go back to work until next Friday. Next Monday, I head downstate for a few days of swimming and hiking and eating. I am going to read and write and relax. That is a great blessing.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for a life of blessings (and six days of vacation).