Working on one’s will is a kind of drudgery that I know is important, but nonetheless depressing. I’ve been putting it off for a while–since Ken died when everything changed, literally and figuratively. But as I plan a trip for the holidays and as a responsible pet parent, I know how important it is to have my ducks in a row. I know how important it was that Ken and I both handled our estate planning before his surgery in 2010; what a sick feeling it gave me in my gut while we did it and how I had to keep smiling and just push through; and ultimately how it made things easier–administratively, that is–after he died.
I remember after I returned to work last year I was notified by the Benefits Team to update my beneficiary information. Ken had, of course, been my beneficiary. Deleting his name was unsettling and gut wrenching. But I had to remind myself I wasn’t deleting him from my life or memory. It was nonetheless a harsh reminder he was gone.
When I went for my annual physical recently, they always have you check over your information and ask you to initial it if it’s correct. Mine was. I handed the clipboard back, then she asked me about my emergency contact–that I didn’t have one listed. Ken was a patient of the same doctor, so I assume he was no longer in the system, so to speak. It caught me off guard. It always does. “Do you have anyone you’d like us to contact in an emergency.” My brain froze up. It usually does. “No, I don’t,” is usually what I want to say. Not because I don’t have people in my life who care about me, but because I was used to being a part of a pair where legal matters like this were automatically answered. I didn’t have to think about it. It felt weird to be my age and give my parents names, but I did–begrudgingly.
Likewise, when I enrolled my Chow Chow, Kallie, in daycare I was asked for an emergency contact–aside from myself. “I don’t have one.” At first I don’t think she believed me. “Certainly you must have SOMEONE?” I heard her think. “Just me,” I said. Her “okay” probably sounded more accusatory to me than it really was. It never ceases to sting. Sometimes I want to blurt it out. “I used to have someone! I used to have an emergency contact! I wasn’t always this person. I used to be two people. Does “used to” count?”
Such is the business of being a grown up.