Yesterday was Jasper’s birthday. He turned 17. He set another PR in the 1600. When he takes off his track warm ups, I see his dad’s legs. We gave him cold hard cash for his big day. He is going to Nicaragua this summer, on the turtle trip in the Fall. Our summer starts out with 4 days in Boise for HOBY, and he just got back from Model UN. All these things cost money. Cold hard cash is very useful. He did not even want a cake because he is making one today for Prom (and he is a better baker than I). So…we stuck a candle in a muffin, sang the song, and then he ate 6 more muffins. I love this boy with all my heart and soul. I am so glad that he was born.
For Jasper’s birthday, I got a “Representative Payee Report” in the mail. Jasper began receiving SSDI benefits a year ago, first as a dependent, now as a survivor. At first I felt weird about accepting these benefits. Jim was still on salary, and our expenses really hadn’t changed that much. Then I accepted it. Jim had paid into that fund since his first job cleaning floors in the wee hours at Safeway. After Jim died, the widow benefits were $250. Lump sum. Yup, that’s all folks. Jasper still receives benefits until the magical age of 18. At 18, he is a “real” adult….even though he will not be able to buy a beer…and somehow he is then supposed to be able to replace Jim’s income in this family, so the survivor benefits stop. I will have no trouble filling out the “Payee Report”. I’ve worked for the state for 20+ years. I’m good at filling out forms. I’ll create a record. For the last 6 months: 1/2 the groceries (he eats 2X what I do, but he doesn’t drink any of the wine), 1/2 the utilities (he does burn more of the midnight oil, and he does take longer showers), sports fees + clothing, gas to check out a college in OR. Throw in a plane ticket to Mexico and one to Nicaragua and we will be over his benefits for the year.
Today is my brother in law’s birthday. It was also Jasper’s due date. It is also the day my sister died in a car wreck at the age of not quite 22. I still miss her. She would have provided a kind of support now that no one else can. I used to think that as I got older, death would become more routine, but I think the pain of grief is cumulative. With every death, it brings up previous loss, which adds to the well of sadness. I’ll never get used to untimely death. I don’t think anyone does. Jim’s doctor, my friend, cried when she heard of Jim’s diagnosis….and she sees death on almost a daily basis. While the experience of losing someone to death is universal, grief is never routine. I’ll never get used to it. I’m raw.