Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holidays in Death

So, a friend of mine died. And his widow is also a friend.

As you might have gathered from the infrequency of posts lately, and the timing of my Death in the family post, he died the week before Thanksgiving.

Because, you know, that's just awesome timing. Amazing timing. Perfect freaking timing.

If you've ever had someone die in your life, you're not surprised by how much stuff is left behind.  If you haven't, you'd be amazed.

Though some of this has been interesting.  Why? Because my friend is amazed and surprised at the outpouring of affection and generosity.

And, yes, I've made it a point to laugh at her about that. She's used to that from me. Though it didn't really sink in, she was still in shock over everyone she knows online being sweet and kind to her. Teasing her about it is the only way to make it get through.

Yes, it's also tough. It's always tough dealing with a death of a loved one. It's even tougher digging through the crap left behind.  Take my grandmother for one, a hoarder.

Just imagine the material parts of death. A short obituary is about $400. A cheap, prepaid funeral for my grandmother was $6,000. And this was barest of bare bones in New York City. Now imagine it in Chicago.  Yes, Chicago. The pit that has earned the name the Second City.

Me? New York chauvinist? Naw. Ignore that the only hat I brought was an NYPD baseball cap.

But, yes, death leaves a ton of crap behind. Furniture that you might not need, but you want because it's sentimental. Bills that need to be paid as part of a regular routine, but you don't really have a regular routine anymore, because a great big part of your life has just been ripped out, and you're looking around wondering where that person is. Because it's pretty much like phantom limb syndrome -- that part of your body is gone, but it still hurts and itches, and you can't actually do anything about it, because it isn't actually there for you to work on or effect.

This of course doesn't count bills that you don't know about. Because if the deceased happened to bury important pieces of paper all over the place in random places, good luck finding them, hunting them down and paying these bills.

This of course also expects that there's enough money kicking around to pay all of these rotten bills and kill off the parasites that are busy trying to get their money while you're busy. And maybe there is, but you can't remember or retain anything because there are some parts and some things that put you into a bit of a haze.

And thankfully, there are friends. Friends who will send money, or offer help, or have you over for Thanksgiving dinner.

And it's hard on everyone, even the friends. Because there's really nothing to be done to help but to be there. And hug someone when they cry -- three to four times a day. Sometimes, a friend tries to make suggestions about arrangements in order to make it quick and cheap and don't break the bank ... which doesn't work when there are dozens of people who need to be contacted that might not know unless the obit is somewhere they can see, and even then it's a shot in the dark.

And of course, there's even the politics of death. Of death! Can you imagine? And not even family politics, but personal politics -- after all, if you can't afford all the newspapers for the obit, you shoot for the one that matches the politics of the deceased, and hopefully all of the people who know him that you're trying to reach.

Then there's the funeral itself.

Something to consider. Something from my family history.

When my maternal grandfather died, his obituary was in the paper. Including day and date and time of the funeral. My father was staying at the house. When the dog started barking, my father went to the front door.  A truck had been pulling up to the house and the driver was getting out. The driver saw my father and got back in the truck, then pulled away.

So, yup, always something new to go wrong.

Not to mention that if I were to run the soundtrack of this outing, one of the songs would be "Always Something There to Remind Me."

Do I even need to explain that one?


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