Taxing Poetic

Photo by Esther Perez
Photo by Esther Perez

What I was prepared for was preparing my taxes.

A pile of paperwork sat close at hand. An empty spreadsheet awaited the figures of another year gone by.

What I wasn’t prepared for was an existential crisis.

It’s no coincidence that Shirley, my incredible grandma-in-law, died nearly a year ago. It was a year after I started this blog in memory of Sue, her daughter. Needless to say, this second blow was all the more crippling from the wounds of the first.

That’s how grief works. It sneaks up on you, especially around the anniversaries. And it tends to bring “friends.”

Shirley and Sue
Shirley and Sue enjoying our annual Pumpkin Day.

I was not thinking of any of this until I started going through the receipts: the last-minute plane tickets bought on the road, the Minnesota shopping spree to supplement our vacation wardrobe with winter funeral apparel, the large grocery tabs to entertain a full house of mourners.

There it was, literally in black and white on 2″ x 4″ slips of paper, tucked into a rather inconsequential pile of tax to-do’s.

Its comrades: a year’s worth of records for work, grocery runs, gas fill-ups, daycare, vacations, house projects, and the list went on and on and on …

As anyone who’s ever experienced a loss can tell you, the everyday things look rather meaningless in the shadow of grief. It shines a harsh and inescapable spotlight on the existential question:

What’s it all for?

I do not bring this up to depress you. I bring it up to refresh your point of view. Whatever trivialities are bothering you today, please put them in perspective. I say it as much to you as to me.

Szaba with her Great Grandma Shirley at Easter two years ago.
Szaba with Great Grandma Shirley at Easter two years ago.

Think about what you in particular are here for. Think you know? Wonderful! Think you don’t? That’s okay, too. Most people don’t. Give it your best guess. Narrow it down to a even a few possibilities.

Then put your time and heart and attention to that.

(After you’re done with your taxes, of course.)


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2 thoughts on “Taxing Poetic

  1. Angela, Your post today is exactly what I needed. I was crying my eyes out most of the morning due to an ongoing neighbor issue where he is damaging our lawn/property with his car. The weekend was filled with three visits from the police to try to keep the peace between neighbors, and after all of that, he once again drove over the lawn this morning to turf it. I have been so upset with this issue, until I just read your post. I thank you for putting things into perspective for me, at this moment in time, and the light at the end of this long drawn out tunnel is, that he sold his house and will be moving in three weeks. Only three more weeks of hell we have to put up with. I definitely hope to stay in contact with you because you are such an inspiration to me today, just when I needed it. Thank You!

    1. You’re very welcome. I’m so sorry to hear your neighbor is making your life miserable. That’s a tough one because you really can’t remove yourself (or your house!) from the situation. I wish you serenity and perspective as you wait it out, and I’m so happy my words could be a comfort to you. As I said, I wrote it as much of a reminder for myself, but there’s a certain peace that comes from knowing you’ve helped someone else, too. 🙂

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