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.”
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.
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.)