Sunday, December 7, 2014

The End of the Line

My husband departed from the physical mid-2014. Five months later it dawned on me that preparing tax information for our stellar accountant would fall to me and me alone. Although bill paying and life-maintenance tasks were shared in our household, Michael was the Commander-in-Chief when it came to organizing our finances for the IRS to peruse. 

Mundane tasks have been difficult to complete since his passing (and before that too), so I decided to start in early lest the multifaceted details of our life fall into oblivion if things were rushed at the end time - April 15, 2015. My first resolve was to begin a new habit of recording written checks in the checkbook, as he did so meticulously. I always relied on mental calculations and online banking to guess our bank balance but now his motto - always to have a paper copy - haunted me. The need for tangible evidence in the face of death's intangibility?

By sheer happenstance I came upon his most recent checkbook today, which had been mixed in with other ones old and new. It was positively thrilling to discover that it started with January 1, 2014. I thumbed through the pages looking for tax-relevant information with bittersweet nostalgia: his handwriting, his reliable accuracy, his patience in attending to the drudgery of detail. 

And then I came to May 20, 2014. The entries stopped abruptly and then blank pages followed, one upon the other. May 20th was the day the doctor called us to deliver the news. Stage four cancer: incurable, rampant throughout his body, ravaging almost every sector of the physical.

Michael had been lucid and able to get around for another three-four weeks after this date when his checkbook entries ceased to be. Why, I wonder, did he stop the day he learned his fate?

Perhaps he realized something precious - that the dead would have no need for checkbooks or bank accounts. Unlike the ancient Egyptians, he knew he wasn't taking his material world with him. Perhaps he didn't want to waste one iota of his ebbing time on earth for what would soon be past. Perhaps he poured his entire will into the forward trajectory of his entrance into the next world.

Sweet Michael, you were so wise.

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