The strange(?) thing about the last few days here in 2020 is I haven't really felt the urge to cry that much. Even going over the details of those days where we were getting ready for the memorial and burial. It's odd. It's not the I want to cry, I just wouldn't have been surprised by more crying. Maybe it's just reassuring to realize we made it through all that, the worst of it, and the tasks are (almost) all done that have any pressing deadline to them. We're waiting on the inheritance tax determination from the state of Pennsylvania, then we get the remainder of the escrow the real estate people put aside for that purpose, we pay our last estate lawyer bills, empty out the estate bank account to split between me and Mark, and then we're finally finished with the estate clean up. Then it's really just all the boxes that need sorting.
This time last year - in fact the July 13th entries remind me - we were just applying for the life insurance payout and the pension death benefit (I'd forgotten this, but of course, we had to wait for copies of the death certificate, and we didn't have those until the memorial on the 9th, and we had the cemetery trip right away on the 10th, I was thinking I'd go back on the 11th, but it actually was delayed until the 12th, so after I caught my breath back in Minnesota on the 13th, I could finally get that paperwork done to drop in the mail). And we still had both the funeral home and the estate lawyer waiting on their payouts, plus all the bills including the two mortgages that needed paying. Also the weirdness of her final social security payment that we didn't full understand right away (she lived through the whole month of June, so she gets that paid out in July - for a while we thought we needed to return July's payment, but she "earned" it by making it to July 1st before dying. Technicalities. The social security person on the phone was SUPER nice, though, I noted.) Throughout this whole process I kept bracing for daily fights with bureaucracy, and almost without exception, people were VERY sympathetic. Turns out all you have to say is "my mom just died" and then through in the fact that it was brain cancer, and that tends to undo most people's standard defenses. Funny how that works.
But the 13th a year ago, we were still very much in the thick of it (and I hadn't even mentioned the HOUSE, and all its attendant needs moving toward sale) - and Dad's death was of course yet to come. 2019 was a banner year for all the wrong reasons.
Weirdly enough, the morning routine I established this day a year ago is the one I've circled back to in the last week or so - writing first thing in the morning before work begins, so I'm sure to take the time to do it and not get to the end of the day, exhausted or forgetful, with no energy reserves left to face the writing. I also make mention of my two jobs (VERY different this year, same day). The 13th was apparently a Saturday last year because I had a monster open to close shift at the Guthrie box office window (but I did have a nice view out the back doors to the trees and Mississippi River and walking/biking paths, and it was a lovely sunny day - much like today). I was looking forward to the ebbs and flows of foot traffic through the building, people looking for tickets, renewing or buying new season ticket packages, and the like - that season package being the one that just got cut in half by the virus, little did we know at the time.
I hadn't done any planning for the Minnesota Fringe Festival (same this year, for different reasons). I was looking forward to the distractions of work and Fringe to fill the days around all the death paperwork.
A lovely turn of phrase here from one of the July 13 entries last year:
"Sometimes not everything's awful."
I remember that guy. He was still getting used to ground having totally shifted under his feet, and at the same time having all these "things" to do. I do feel a bit steadier now, which is good, and the list of "things" is down to a very few from the previous "everything" so that's a major improvement. Not done, but close. Comforting in some ways what difference a year can make. My orphan friend Chuck was right - time. It takes time.
And I end the entries from last year on the 13th with one about how nice it is to have warm, open the windows and let the breeze flow through weather finally in Minnesota. It wasn't fully spring yet in Minnesota when I left to help tend to Mom. And I wasn't back for more than a week and a half in June to really get used to the change of seasons. After the return from the funeral, it finally felt summery and I was adapting accordingly. Memories of me and Mom in the house in the summer, like I've been conjuring the last couple of weeks in current entries. And Mom loving and outfitting this new home of mine.
And it ends:
"Now when I feel the breeze wafting through the house, and enjoy the natural sunlight illuminating my work, I think of her, and how happy she was here, and how happy she was that I was here.
And that gives me a little comfort this morning.
Maybe she's in the breeze that cools my skin today.
I'd like to think that's true."
That's not bad. I'll try to think of it that way today. That's a very nice thought to hang on to.