The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, located in the city of Vonnegut's birth, Indianapolis, Indiana, exists as grassroots monument to Vonnegut and mecca to fans who come from all over the world to pay homage to not only his works but also the doors and windows he blew open wide for all who, as he once did, choose to delve into the world of literature to confront personal experiences and issues - demons and angels in close companionship - and in doing so access a deeper, better sense of self.
As the KVML seeks new digs in which to set up Vonnegut's writing corner, typewriter, memorabilia and contemporaneous accoutrement, where it will continue to serve as a haven for progressive and individualistic thought, action and celebration, it maintains a website where most recently a campaign and page was created, #ThanksToKurt. Here, fans of Kurt Vonnegut can post brief essays in gratitude for whatever connection was forged via his works - works comprised of perfectly distilled sentences crafted to tell tragic and ironic tales, possessed of beauty and humor, embedded in brutal honesty.
With the blessing of KVML director and founder, Julia Whitehead, I will share my Letter to Kurt, with also my deepest expression of sympathy for the victims of yesterday's tragic events in Chattanooga, and their families.
I as a marine mom had to grapple with nuanced and conflicting loyalties as regarded patriotism, war and peace, fight and survival, passivity and loss.
Kurt Vonnegut did what he had to do as duty-bound serviceman. He later dealt with the emotional aftermath not through violent deeds paid forward but via the repeated cutting and healing of words, words and more words. Vonnegut as writer showed me I could, in effect, embrace the dichotomy of peace-mongering citizen and tough-as-nails loyalty to a son in arms, and that I too could use the sublime gift of language to explore, vent and share my own experience.
Vonnegut, a son who served, inspired me to more fully embrace my duty to my son - honorably discharged after serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan, still seeking his post-service life path - while yet speaking out against the complex and costly societal abyss that is war.
Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. But you came home. And then you wrote about it. My son came home too. I will write about that.