The process of paperwork that follows a death is a painful erasing. I am told to erase you from my bank account, insurance, car title, 401K. Your passport was received by me with “expired” stamped over it and holes punched through it along with the paperwork that accompanied your casket and “you” back to the States.
Your social security card is in our little fireproof box where I’d so neatly organized everything- in a little orange envelope labeled “social security cards.” I memorized your number because I needed it for so many of the practical things I’d been in charge of. I don’t even know Audrey’s yet. Your signature on your card is one I’d never known- it’s your younger self’s attempt at cursive. On the back of the card it says, “Do not laminate.” Yours is laminated.
To counter all of the erasing I must do, I create. A glass jewelry box to hold the items you gave me, a teddy bear with your voice in it, and these words…all these words.
I haven’t done most of the erasing yet, though I know I “should.” I feel a pressure – from myself- to get most of it done by the one year. To free up space in my mind for new ideas- less erasing, more creating. But I take my time. Time to understand this reality- because I had absolutely no preparation. I must ready myself the idea. It takes many months to feel ready to remove you from our bank account. The one I opened in Park Slope right after we got married. The one I happily deposited all of those wedding gift checks into when we started our life…and the one I tearfully deposited all of the funeral gifts into…”Did you get married?” I was asked by the teller. No. Once I did.