Feb 04

Maybe the Bureaucrats read my blog

Called the Civil Affairs office back this morning, nice lady on the phone confirmed that the problem is that the SP3 form filled out by the doctor states the date of death as January 1. I assured her that he died on the 3rd. I told her she could become my friend on FB if she wanted to check. Then I told her I found it highly ironic that it was THAT particular form that was wrong, seeing as the doctor didn’t sign it until 9 am on the 3rd. I know this because 2 of J’s friends spent the night sitting with him at the hospital as he could not be released to the funeral home without an SP3 and there was no authorized doctor to sign one after midnight.

I could tell she felt bad. She said she had called the hospital several times and they hadn’t called her back. I told her I was on my way to therapy, but afterwards, I would make the trip to the hospital and go yell   speak to someone in Archives myself. She said that was a great idea.

Not even 30 min later, she called me back. She reached someone in archives, they already put a corrected version… in the mail! She explained to them that this was not good enough and they needed to FAX it to her immediately. Is it 2016? do we not have the ability to send pixels through the internet???

Anyhow, I didn’t have to call the newspaper, I didn’t have to make the sad widow face on TV, apparently I will receive a corrected death certificate on Monday or Tuesday. Because now that she can print them, she has to mail them to me….

Feb 03

The Story I Had No One to Tell

I read a local food blog last week that said one of our favorite hipster pizza places was closing under suspicious circumstances and that the owner was leaving the employees high and dry. This was the kind of story that J would have been all over: he would have sent me the link at 5 am, asked me about at 9 and followed up at the end of the day with some tidbit he had read in a local chat room, or better yet, emailed the blogger directly.

I read the story and thought: boy, I have no one to discuss this with.

This is how you pass the time when you live in the hospital: you discuss, in depth, the tiny stories like this. And J LOVED stories like this, especially if they related to local restaurants. (which is HIGHLY ironic because he was a very picky eater)

I remember after my mom died, how much I missed talking to her every day. This is completely different. I don’t get to do my daily run down of how the kids are doing. I don’t get to tell him that the big one had her braces adjusted and she’s miserable and moping around, or that the little one did pretty damn good at her diving competition despite being besodden with grief. I can’t tell him about the never-ending bathroom renovation that we were building for him. But in the end, that’s not what I miss. I miss the weird stories, the obscure links to blogs.

And I had nobody to talk to about the fact that we will never again have onion-soup pizza.

Feb 01

Dear Bureaucrat, did you forget about me?

In the Jewish tradition, 30 days after someone’s death is Shloshim where some of the mourning restrictions are lifted. I will be getting a haircut tomorrow.

In the meantime, in the eyes of our dear bureaucrats, I am still in limbo: I have not received a corrected version of the death certificate. Both the notary and myself called and were told that even though we paid for accelerated service and the mistake was theirs, the file still has not been reviewed. The lady I spoke to this morning seemed to indicate that maybe the doctor put the wrong date on the hospital paperwork. Which would not surprise me. But if that department needs to chase down the hospital to check this information, lord knows when I will get the death certificate. Which means I can’t do anything. Can’t do a will search, can’t start the estate stuff, nothing.

This is excruciating. How am I supposed to pick up the pieces and start moving forward when I can’t even press the start button?

Frustration level: expensive wine needed.

Jan 27

His Stuff

J was in the hospital for a year. At some point, he stopped wearing even pjs and tshirts and was stuck in hospital gowns. So since we were selling the house and moving, we got a head start on packing by putting all his clothes in suitcases a good month before we moved.

Once we got here, we didn’t unpack his things. The thinking was ‘let him do it when he comes home’. I would tell the girls stuff like ‘I don’t know if he will want his pants on the right or on the left, I’m not sure if he wants his shirts or his suits on this rack’. It felt like it was giving everyone something to look forward to.

So his suitcases have been sitting there since September, in the closet, waiting.

Today I took the first step. I opened them all. We got rid of the underwear and socks because there is no sentimental attachment to any of that*. Same thing with old/worn shoes. Everything else got folded properly into those giant Ziplock bags and stacked under the bed (lucky thing the bed is one of those lifty-things with a storage space). The girls each grabbed a few t-shirts they liked and a couple of his hoodies. For now, everything else will stay in storage. I’m not ready to decide what stays and what goes, that is for another time. But I also need to stop staring at these boxes, a daily reminder of what didn’t come to be.

*actually, he had a lot of cool socks so we only got rid of all the sports socks. I’m wearing his killer orange socks today and I know the girls will get a kick out of doing something with the rest of the colorful ones.

Jan 24

I am NOT good at everything

Every couple somehow shares household duties. In our house, a lot of stuff fell on my shoulders because I was the handy one and the creative one. J on the other hand was extra organized, so he took care of ALL the paperwork. This worked for us both at home and at the store. I could created a window display with nothing but the content of the recycling bin from the drug store down the street (TRUE STORY!) and he made sure that the accountant had an organized folder come tax time.

During his year in the hospital, this didn’t change. Once a week, I brought him the mail. He would open and sort it, pay whatever needed to be paid online or write out a cheque and I just had to mail it. Even that proved to be hard for me sometimes…. things sat on the front seat of my car until he would remind me ‘hey, did you mail that in?’.

Once he got into the ICU and bringing things in and out was no longer an option, he still somehow managed to send me reminders.

Here is the thing: I SUCK AT PAPERWORK. We have piles and piles of stuff in boxes for the last year, all waiting to be organized into folders. I know I need to gather important documents to bring to the lawyers and I am completely paralysed. I don’t know where to start. It’s so stupid, it’s just papers and they just need to be put into folders. But honestly, I would rather fold them all into a thousand origami cranes or use them to create a wallpaper mosaic than actually sort and file them.

I wonder if the accountant and lawyers would prefer the origami or the wallpaper?

Jan 19

Dear Pencil-Pusher: You suck at your job

When someone dies where I live, nothing can happen until an official death certificate is received in the mail, 5-10 business days after the form is submitted by the funeral home.

On Friday, 5 very expensive copies of said death certificate arrived in the mail. I knew they were coming, but I have to admit I was not ready for the reaction I had holding said documents in my hands…. So I saw his name, clearly it came to the right address and his date of birth was right. So I stopped reading. I put one in my purse so I could cross the border with the girls (we had to go retrieve packages shipped for him at the mail forwarding place) and I stuck the other copies in my nightstand, knowing that on Monday we would officially begin the paperwork of dealing with the will, the estate etc.

Monday morning, I drove downtown, paid for parking and dropped off said death certificate. Then I popped into H&M to buy a tunic because honestly, all this death-stuff is wearing me down.

When the lawyer called at 4, I thought she was calling me to give me an appointment to come in to start settling things. Instead, she informed me that the fucking useless pencil pusher in Quebec City put the WRONG DATE OF DEATH on the death-certificate. (She did double check and the form from the funeral home was properly filled out)

Yes, that is right. The WRONG date. Rendering the documents nul and void. Documents that I paid 60$ per copy for. Oh but don’t worry, they will reissue new ones, she said.

AFTER you return the ones you got. And still in 5-10 business days. At least they won’t charge me.

Dear government-pension pencil-pusher, you had ONE job. and you SUCK at it.

Limbo continues. We can’t start working on anything.

Jan 18

the Dead Husband Card

When I had breast cancer, I didn’t use the Breast-Cancer-Card very often, but when I did, it was always very useful.

This weekend, after not travelling for an entire year, the kids and I drove down to Plattsburgh for a little cross border shopping. First, we stopped by the mail-forwarding place to pick up the 4 packages that were sitting there waiting for my husband – boy was that a waste of a trip! We found bluetooth headphones (Belkins, not Beats), a t-shirt called Dogs Camping (no clue), a belkin travel power-strip/usb charger and, best of all, a nose-hair trimmer…. Not sure what’s special about it or why it had to be shipped to the US, guess we will never know.

After making youngest child wear the t-shirt, oldest child wear the headphones around her neck like a good tween and sticking the power bar into the car emergency pack, I was left only with the nose-hair trimmer…. (listen, why pay duty when you don’t have to)

We hit up 5 Guys so we could use the fancy soda machine and make the sodas of our dreams, then the dollar section at Target where I got enough cool file folders to actually take on the task of organizing my dead-husband’s papers (and a US iTunes cards, duh) and finally, the grocery store for all the kosher stuff that we can’t get north of the border. At the last second, we popped into Bed Bath and Beyond and the girls each spent 40$ on crappy toys (a snow scooter and a fake 80s Atari console)

Grand total: 120$ of groceries (no duty), 68$ at Target and 80$ at BBB.

We got to the border, 3 bills in hand. The Border Guard asked me the standard questions: where do you live, are those your kids, how long were you in the States, why such a short trip. So that’s when I dropped it. The New Widow card….

‘My husband died 2 weeks ago. The kids wanted to go mix soda at 5 Guys and I let them spent 40$ each at BBB. Oh and I bought groceries and 60$ worth of crap at Target, here are the bills’

The border guard never got past the new widow, dead husband thing. Gave me my bills and waved me right through. I should have gone shoe shopping.

Next time, I will tell you all about the Voice Drop….

Jan 15

My New Uniform

In the olden days, widows had very strict guidelines on how to dress. When they went out into the world, it was clear: they are widows in mourning.

During my chemo, I went out of my way to dress up whenever I left the house: cute dresses with boots, scarves on my head, I even wore makeup. I did it to cheer myself up, but I also did it to make other people feel comfortable around me. People get wickedly awkward around sick people. You don’t realize it until you’ve been on the receiving end.

Over the last year, I had a hospital uniform of sorts: jeans with pockets for my phone, a tank top and a sweater or blouse. Because I suffer from Tamoxifen-induced hot flashes and I had to wear a paper gown in Jay’s room, I would take off my top and be in a tank-top. It was utilitarian but I always looked decent enough to go somewhere like school pickup, the pool (where tank-tops are a must) or the occasional time I actually socialized with people.

For the week of the Shiva, I made a humongous effort to wear something appropriate everyday. The girls helped me come up with a skirt and a top, or a dress that wasn’t too colorful. I didn’t even wear any pants because the orthodox-convert in me felt that it would be inappropriate.

But as soon as Shiva was over, I totally lost my ability to dress myself. I spent several days in pajamas. Once the girls went back to school, I was confronted with the reality that I needed to get dressed, at least for the couple of hours a day when I leave the house. For some reason, my jeans and tank tops have zero appeal to me. They are actually too hard. Imagine that. Too hard to put on jeans.

So on my way to the funeral home today (to file widows and orphans benefits documents), I stopped by Joe Fresh and bought myself a couple of new pairs of leggings and every single top I could find that would be long enough to cover my ass: t-shirts with long backs, a couple of tunics and a plaid shirt 2 sizes too big. There you have it. The modern mourning widow uniform: leggings as pants and a long top. Maybe Joe Fresh wants to use this in their marketing….

I also go a big long black cardigan with pockets. Because I’m a widow, but I need to put my phone somewhere.

Jan 14

#Widowhood

I started blogging in 2002, on the now-defunct Diaryland. I blogged through my infertility treatments, and it brought into my life some amazing women that I still count as friends today. It also brought #floorcake, #dirtyunderpantsgirl and so many other words that helped me get through tough times. (we didn’t use hashtags back then, but we totally would have, we were just ahead of them!)

I kept blogging through the long wait for our adoptions. This truly was the hay-day of blogging and the people that I met during that time are some of my absolute closest friends to this day. We shared so much, and blogging brought us together. Once we all became parents, we shared our experiences and became real-life friends, making some wonderful trips to connect our families.

I blogged through my cancer experience, right here on this blog. This too brought some amazing people into my life: fellow breasties who were going through treatment, some who had finished and had wise words of advice, but also some amazingly supportive souls who just wanted to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Blogging has brought so many people into my life that I never would have met otherwise. So I will be blogging this next phase of my life too. I know blogs aren’t really such a thing anymore, but whatever, I already own this domain and I’m too lazy and too tired to figure anything else out. I hope you’ll stick around for this next chapter. If you don’t, I understand, it’s not really going to be a cancer blog anymore (though I’m still waiting for that 5-year chip). And if you know anyone that I would like to connect with, please please send them this way. I’m curious to see who I get to meet as I enter what I am calling #WIDOWHOOD.

Jan 11

So, Now What?

8 days ago, my husband died. 8 days ago, I became a widow.

When you marry someone with chronic illness with no chance of a cure, you know one day, you will be a widow. The only question was when. My husband was a fighter and he gave it is all: years of treatments, pills and IVs, not one, but TWO double lung transplants, 2 digestive surgery and 2 tracheotomies (he liked doing things more than once), one full year living in the hospital. In the end though, getting air into his lungs became impossible.

We are in a very weird situation. I have met other people who became widowers in their 40s, usually suddenly. Very few had as much time to prepare as I did. But just because I *knew* it was going to happen, it doesn’t make it any easier. We did have time to make plans, discuss parenting, tell each other everything we wanted to say. There are no regrets.

But I am still a 45 yo widow with 2 kids who have now lost a parent for the second time in their short lives.

The ‘outrunning the cloud’ analogy doesn’t really work this time. The cloud is not lifted. Well, the black cloud of doom is gone, but now we are moving forward into a thick fog. A team of 3. So, I’ll ask again: Now What?

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