Doing taxes always sucks, but this year it really sucks- and I’m not even doing them. I read about other widows having breakdowns when they receive the W2’s in the mail. But because you were self-employed, I’ve been getting a ton of 1099’s and W2’s so I just threw them in a pile- didn’t affect me too much.
But this part- gathering everything together in preparation to give it all to an accountant tomorrow- is hurting. A lot.
I opened up a big file folder you bought to try to stay organized when you started to do music full-time. Mostly it has receipts and a few smaller envelopes with more receipts, but there are also some plane tickets, two hotel keys from Australia, some passes for the venues you were playing with, and a photo you bought from a Nature Preserve of you holding a koala. Audrey was really enchanted with that photo when we saw it online while you were in Australia. As I open it up now, I start to moan quietly seeing your face- it’s so refreshing to see you there…but then I say sarcastically, “I’m so glad you got to hold a fucking koala bear.” It’s just so hard to separate the traveling and the touring from your death. Rationally, I know it was one incident that killed you- but still, they seem to go hand in hand.
I sift through the receipts to make sure they’re really business -related and put them in a pile. I think I’ll add them up another night and email the accountant the total for business expenses. I can tell gathering the stuff is all I can handle right now. It’s taking all of my strength.
Then I remember seeing some white business sized envelopes in your backpack with your handwriting on them when I sorted through it in tears back in July: “Transportation,” “Food,” “Tax stuff,” you wrote on them in blue ink. I kept harping on you that if you were going to do this music thing, you better do it right and keep your receipts so we can treat it like a real business and list all of the expenses. Yeah, you were trying. You were listening to me.
So, I had to open up your back pack- the one that I bought you at TJ Max thinking you might need something like that right before your first European tour in 2009. It’s the one that was sent back in a box from Switzerland and still has all of your belongings in it as you left them: sheets with music notes and songs, a Ziploc bag with toiletries- razors, a toothbrush, a couple of professional head shots of you in black and white. I find the envelopes, take them out, and put them in a pile.
It’s painful looking at receipts because they’re so detailed. They tell me where you were on March 14, 2010- what kind of coffee you ordered at Starbucks, when you met your old co-worker for Thai food in midtown, and that your server at a bar in Nashville for the festival was Darla. (OK, I’m making that up because I don’t feel like looking through them again for the sake of detailed writing).
The pile includes the last few receipts from your time here…a trip to Whole Foods two days before you left- it has the ingredients for the last meal I ever cooked you on it: Tilapia, tomatoes, cucumbers (in a lime marinade), with a corn and tomato pasta salad on the side. You were angry with me that night because of an argument we’d had while getting on Route 4 to go to the park that afternoon. I asked you to please enjoy this meal because I made it special since it was your last meal with us as a family. It was. It really was.
Then there’s the receipt from Balthazaar Bakery from the next day- the morning of the day you took a cab and left, one from Pizza Gallery, a few from Whole Foods, Duane Reade where you went to get travel stuff before your trips, Barnes and Noble, the bagel place down the street, and one from Chipotle that says on top “Life is burritoful.”
These little pieces of slippery paper with faded ink feel like bricks in my hands…they are so heavy tonight.
This proves it. You were really here.