Friday, February 24, 2012

Down the Road There Is a Farm

I was going to finally come here today and moan about how I've been drowning in work and hating it because it's getting in the way of the stuff that matters. And then I got a call. My neighbor J. down the street at the farm died. Despite knowing hospice was in, I didn't expect this news so soon. I'm sad, sad she won't be showing us and visitors around the animals, sad I won't hear "Hiya, hun" when I walk by, sad that she is gone.

My mind, however, wouldn't stay put. It raced back and forth. It went back to when Henry was in the hospital and I'd tell him again and again about home (where we would be again someday). I'd tell him about the farm and how M. would teach him to feed a lamb a bottle. I'd sing "Old McDonald" to him, but I'd sing "Down the road there is a farm, EIEIO. And on that farm you might see J, EIEIO, with a Hello here and a Hello there, here Hello, there Hello, everywhere Hello, Hello, down the road there is a farm, EIEIO." He's gone and she's gone.

My jumped ahead too, to another call that will come some day, sooner than we will like or expect, despite knowing that hospice is in. The call will come that my mother-in-law has passed or is struggling. There will be a flurry of getting down there and tears and everything breaking open again.

And then my mind comes to rest on the last time I saw J. It was a strangely springlike day a couple of weeks ago, and we were out for a walk. We stopped to see the chickens and were heading back to the wagon when we saw J. with people taking her out for a walk. She seemed cheery, glad to be out, and, aside from the wheelchair, fine. I remember her smile and her greeting and I settle with that.

Our neighborhood is close, and a piece is missing today, down the road, at the farm.

Friday, February 10, 2012

In the system

About seven weeks ago, I got a letter telling me that Kathleen and Elizabeth had been enrolled in one of our state healthcare for kids programs. I didn't want or need this coverage for them and certainly didn't want to pay the monthly premium on top of what we are already paying. Although I didn't really apply for this (I guess in a backward way I did by applying for premium assistance when Brian was in school), they suddenly sent me a bill. Or two bills rather, one for each kid, because they're efficient that way.

I was irritated that they were giving me something that didn't really help and denying me what would help. I was irritated that they were making me call to cancel something I never really asked for. Mostly I was exhausted by the idea of calling them.

We applied when Henry was sick for both the state plan and SSDI. After he died, I had to call both and go through a rigamarole to cancel his never used coverage, talking to this person and that and holding and being transferred, and each time having to say, "My son died." Exactly one person said anything like, "I'm sorry." Most just seemed confused because there was no page in their script for "baby died." I finally got to the last person, explained the situation ending with "he died."

"And?" she said, clearly irritated that I was wasting her time with my dead baby. And. And—that's why every interaction I've had with them has been exhausting. I dread making the call.

I had to call today to cancel the unwanted plans for the girls. The person I spoke to was pleasant and efficient. She got our account number and the girls' names and birth dates. She put me on hold to check our account. When she came back, she asked if I was cancelling for two children or three.

He's still in the system. Maybe I should be glad that he is in there, still lurking, proof that he was, but how many times do I have to say, "He died"? It's wearying. I managed to get off the phone before I cried. It seems like not having him should be enough, that I shouldn't have to keep confronting bureaucracy about it.