Billy was working on his second letter when the first letter was published. The second letter started out like this:
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes."
--Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Everyone struggles against despair, but it always wins in the end. It has to. It's the thing that lets us say goodbye.
--Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
The nuns taught us there are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.
--"The Tree Of Life", 2011
One can show no greater respect than to weep for a stranger.
--Jose Saramago, Seeing
I am...sad and angry. Why is my spirit so sad and angry? I look back at my life and all I can remember is rage and rage and rage.
--Chris Adrian, The Children's Hospital
Thinking of a kid who doesn’t want to say he’s still
using heroin. He’s six minutes old and the cut
below his eye’s on fire just beneath
the visible wavelengths. I suspect
he’ll drop out of college and washing his clothes.
He’ll go to New York, which is my favorite actor,
how tall it stands and green in the middle
of murder or love, and then Africa,
because getting around is like practicing death,
the unknown cliffs and call to prayer in the morning
in a city he can’t speak to. Were I a sailor,
I’d cut my ship loose one night and miss it
the rest of my life, go looking in ports
with my eyes closed. I sense wandering in him
on a suicidal scale, like he’ll pick a fight
with the ocean. When I came into Heraklion,
I spent hours on the concrete blocks
along the shore, they’re shaped like jacks, those
we scooped as tots while a ball bounced,
and three times as big as a man. People
and sunlight went by and that was enough for me,
but this kid, I fear he wants a bullet in every second,
for time to be furious and piercing
and will make it so by putting his face
through a windshield each day. There are so many
round things, like an O in the arm, the O of poets,
that gasping sound, that syllable of praise
we offer in lieu of sense. How romantic,
the poem he’s writing in his skin, this kid
who doesn’t know what he’s trying to let go
and so throws everything in.