Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

A letter came in the mail. It indicated I had a package waiting for me at the post office. From the Trident Society. I knew what it was.

Carrying the box from the post office to the car, I noted how unbelievably heavy it was (my brother was a big guy). Do you know how much your ashes will weigh? More than you think.

I thumped the box into the passenger side. The seat bounced quietly. I noticed the price to ship: It cost $21.06. It was sent UPS ground.

It had my name on it, addressed to me as if it were an Amazon.com order, some late Christmas gift I had ordered but had come too late.

I came home to my mother pouring coffee in the kitchen. She looked at me, lumbering into the hall with a brown parcel and I could tell that she knew, too. I set the box down in the other room, making sure it was away from the kitchen, but not too far away to be disrespectful. It’s a very strange thing, finding the right spot for remains.

My mother went over to the box and attempted to lift it. She looked sad. I thought she might cry. She lifted her head and raised her eyebrows instead.

“It’s heavy!”

“How much to do you think it weighs?” I asked.

“10-15 lbs.” was her guess.

She left for an appointment. With the rest of the house empty, I took the opportunity to wander from room to room and yell at walls. I accused them of being motherfuckers, of their unfairness. They stared back at me, white, emotionless and unapologetic.

I sat on the bottom stair and sobbed. It was true, this death of my brother’s; he had not — as suggested by my mother, desperate for an alternate reality — moved to Alaska and orchestrated an elaborate hoax. No, no: he really had died.

And now he was sitting in a 12″ x 12″ x 24″ box on our living room table, underneath the china teacups.

I went upstairs and called Fidelity Investments. I opened up a 0% fee Rollover IRA and a Roth IRA and the nice man on the phone helped me rollover my Simple IRA and 401(k) into the Rollover IRA, and then plan for a Roth conversion because it’s better to pay the income taxes now since I’m in the lowest tax bracket this year and also I can avoid the monthly contributions and initial deposit if I rollover which is good and I was beginning to feel better until I had to fill out the online application which asked me to designate a beneficiary.

I no longer have any beneficiary.

My brother had always, always been my “primary designated beneficiary.” When I got my first job and set up a 401(k), we joked that if I ever kicked the bucket he would be in a prime position to inherit the mighty sum of $300.

But slowly I am coming to accept that the only thing I will ever give him are these words.

§415 · January 16, 2008 · Unthinkable Loss · · [Print]

2 Comments to “Oh, it’s Heavy”

  1. m says:

    Tonight Sweet girl, i picked up that box and sobbed. i watched the pictures that Aunt Ann had left on the small screen. I miss him beyond belief, and I love you even more. We are in this together.

  2. alia says:

    Reading that makes me feel closer to your pain, Shanny, which I wanted. Your words are so moving. It is so heavy, indeed.

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