Of all of the months of the year, I have never been fond of February. The most dreadful winter weather occurs then, and it was especially spiteful this year. I honestly have lost track of how many ice and snowstorms came through east Tennessee in the past two weeks. I know that I shoveled more snow during that short period than the past five years. Thankfully, two neighborhood kids showed up for the last snow event and cleared my driveway and walk for some pocket change. I provided hot chocolate as refreshment and an additional reward after their job was done. And the electric power stayed on, so Angel and I were safe and warm. Thank you, God!
My blogging activities continue to be minimal. Grief and despair have a firm grip on my heart. Who in the world wants to read about all of that? And reading everybody’s happy-go-lucky posts about their contented, normal lives only provides a dramatic comparison of how mine is not. The two-month anniversary of Jim’s death was last week. I spent the day alone, like most days, and I cried a lot. Welcome to my depressing world.
I don’t blame you if you click out now and go visiting a blog that talks about a fun shopping adventure, cheerful family event, or new recipe. Go ahead and scoot if you are looking for amusement. No worries or hard feelings.
I don’t know when the darkness it is going to lighten. Most of the time I feel like I am just going through the motions of living a strange, unfamiliar life, waiting until I die and the nightmare ends. I wake up each day to a solitary life, filled with sorrow. (Sorry, keeping it real here.) It doesn’t help that I don’t feel very well right now and continue to sleep poorly. Yes, I have moments of transient joy, especially when I play with Angel. But a dark shadow is always there. To survive, I push myself onward, forcing myself to get out of bed and face it all. What other choice do I have? To distract myself, I make sure that I fill my days with an abundance of tasks. There is much to be done, tending to the business of death and managing the household by myself.
I got our 2014 income tax return completed and submitted. The IRS requires that a taxpayer’s death be prominently proclaimed at the top of the paperwork. So I had to figure out how to get that unhappy chore accomplished this time with TaxAct, the online tax preparation tool that I use. I also did some rough calculations about my 2015 tax burden. Get this – my income is now significantly less, but the annual tax amount will go up. I’ve had to drastically increase my withholding rate so that I don’t have a huge tax bill this time next year. Yes, the Federal government really puts the screws to single taxpayers.
It has been an exercise of frustration to get Jim’s 401(k) retirement account converted over to a rollover IRA in my name. Charles Schwab manages the account. The process delays give me the impression that their staff is incompetent and inefficient. I swear that Schwab must hire their employees from the department of motor vehicles! It will be a relief when I can finally get the money transferred over to Vanguard, where I have all of my other investments.
I have also been inventorying camera equipment, including Jim’s. It has been a sad task, reminding me of broken dreams of future journeys together. My photography hobby, shared with my sweet husband, will never be the same again. An initial shipment is on its way to a used camera dealer. I hope to get another shipment out this week after I finish cleaning more gear. I’m also buying some new, lighter equipment. All of that is the subject of another post on another day.
I have additional solo task (aren’t they all?) to complete this week, and I’m sure that this one will be very sorrowful. I have to review the drawing for the cemetery headstone. It is a double one, with Jim’s name and dates on the left and my information on the right. Given my current level of (in)stability, I hope the cemetery staff has an adequate amount of tissues on hand.
If you are still reading this, you need a little reward for slogging through all of my morose ramblings. So here is a cute photo of Angel, basking in some sunshine coming through my office window. She continues to settle in and provide me with loving company. While I am busy going to and fro, working on this and that, she enjoys quality time on one of her beds (located strategically throughout my cottage). Her obedience classes have been cancelled twice due to weather, so training will continue into this month. Angel is a sweet little girl, and right now this bundle of fur is keeping me alive.
I know I will receive more emotional healing once the weather improves and spring temperatures arrive. It doesn’t help to be cooped up in the house all of the time. I count my blessings when I get notes and text messages from my blogging friends. I’ve even gotten some very thoughtful gifts! (You know who you are.) You bring brightness and smiles to my days. God bless you and thank you for remembering me and touching my life. It prompts me to focus on gratitude.