Thursday, January 8, 2009

Addition and Subtraction

We just got our annual street listing form in the mail from the town clerk. It lists me and my husband, noting our names, sex, date of birth, occupation, political party. It says that we have no dogs or cats, though we'd like to have a dog again someday.

It is a fairly innocuous form. Even column 9 seems harmless, narrow as it is, the words Moved/Deceased, cramped and vertical to fit. And it was that column that killed me this time last year.


I drew a line through Henry's name. I could not have had the chance to write his name in, for he was born after the form came in 2007. He must have been added once his birth certificate was registered at the town hall for there he was: Brian, Sara, Henry. I drew a line through his name and wrote a D in that column.


He was only 6 months old. He had been "deceased" for less than a month. I could barely breathe as I corrected the form.

So the form came today. This time it says only Brian and Sara. I need to add our daughter, born last month. Adding her name is a joyful act, a natural one, completely different from the elimination of life I had to mark last year. The form will go from showing two people to showing three. It is much better than moving from three people to two. Still it doesn't add up right.

There are three people living in our house, but we are a family of four.

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