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The Paperwork

If only Mike would have known how much paperwork was involved after someone's death, he would have preemptively apologized, I'm sure.  My first clue was on the day he died, within the same hour that I held his had, watching the rise and fall of  his   c h e s t     s  l  o  w   a   n    d      stop.

The business card handed to me clearly spelled out the department name: Office of Decedent Affairs.  Makes sense.  Shouldn't have surprised me.  But it did.

So, I guess it's fitting that this past Friday I had the worst meltdown since that day your lungs ceased to inflate.  My spirit was deflated Friday; the wind knocked out of me when the paperwork of it all overwhelmed me.

It didn't happen on a Tuesday like the “Trifecta of Tragic Events”, but a Friday of all days;  that day of the week that is meant to symbolize freedom from responsibility transpiring into carefree jocularity.  TGIF.

But late afternoon, the expected caterer for your Memorial Gathering (everyone: please stop calling it a “celebration of life”)—a caterer I had been coordinating with for almost two weeks and to the exclusion of other caterers—finally returned my phone messages only to say that she had emailed me “earlier in the week” regarding the decision that they couldn't take on another job that weekend.  I never received the email.

So, I put on my event planner voice and started to make other initial contacts.  Full Widowzilla.  Voice mails left and progress made, I head out to exercise, really for the first time in ten years, with the plan being to later attend a BBQ at a friend's house.  Getting into the truck, I realize I should call to get the new homeowners policy number.  Big mistake.

Twenty minutes later...

Truck door still ajar, I'm back in the house, sobbing, weeping, full Widowzilla.  Seems the policy didn't get written at 12:01 am today, like it was supposed to.  12:01 tonight it will be in effect.

“But don't worry,” I am told.
“The day is almost over.”
“The house won't burn down tonight.”
“Just pray hard tonight, hon.”

Of course, that set me off.

Usually composed, clear and efficient, I was transformed into a blubbering mute.  Couldn't speak so just had to hang up before I passed out while holding my breath to stifle the sobs.

This was the culmination of many years of hard work and awkward decisions.  Life insurance on the mortgage?  Do we need it?  I suppose so, since my husband has CANCER!!!  So, we got it and paid for it, and now I am secure in the house.  But I screwed up the homeowners insurance paperwork.  Forgot to send the check, and so had to detour at 4:50pm the day before to a mailbox place to fax the payment authorization to get it written at 12:01am Friday.  And they screwed that up.  We screwed it up.

I walked out to close the truck door, came back inside, called my friends to cancel, and sat down exhausted, stuffy and headachy, to make sure the house didn't burn down before 12:01am.

Sarah Wenstrand-Moore
24 April 2007
20 minute write
after quote: "And they, since they/Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs." from Out, Out— by Robert Frost

all contents copyright ©2010 Sarah Wenstrand