This is Jake’s toothbrush. 4 months and 21 days after. I have not moved his toothbrush. I am very much an “anti-clutter” kind of girl. I get rid of everything I possibly can. Sometimes I sell my kids’ toys right out from under their noses (or pried from their hands)-because I don’t like clutter. I cannot do anything with Jake’s toothbrush but look at it every single time I walk in the bathroom. In a way, I’m still waiting for him to come home. I can sit at the window for hours and search the yard for him. Longing for him to come walking out of the bushes or something. Every day, I check all the rooms in the house–looking for Jake.
Yesterday I saw someone I hadn’t seen in awhile. She mentioned that I looked “good”–like I was getting “over” stuff. I almost vomited. I wanted to scream at her about my “Kristen Suit”. Instead I just shook my head and said “No”. I will never, ever be okay. I will never “get over” this. I don’t care what you think you see on the outside. On the inside, I am a completely devastated, messed up, different person. Don’t let the Kristen Suit fool you.
My youngest cousin was killed in a car accident a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday in 2010. I remember talking to my uncle (her father) and something he told me then struck me. It struck me then and it continues to haunt me to this day. He said, “I’ve been sentenced to a lifetime in hell”. Although you cannot compare the grief and loss between two people, I get that now. For me, the hell isn’t just about the loss. It’s about what I could have done differently so that this didn’t happen. I torture myself with the thought- “If I had only turned right instead of left”.
In the months since I lost him, (which is a stupid thing to say actually–if something is “lost”, there is the implication that it might be “found” again). Stupid phrase. I just decided I’m not using that expression anymore. In the months “after”, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about death, probate, attorneys, medical records, etc. Although I am his wife, I didn’t have access to anything that his name on it. For example, did you know that medical records can only be requested by the patient himself? Well, if that patient is deceased, you’re SOL. You need court paperwork–piles of paperwork to have access to anything with your spouse’s name on it. Did you know it costs money just to DIE in King County? Because Jake died in King County, I actually had to PAY a fee to the county! Every account with his name on it, required a death certificate–which also cost money. I believe it cost me $200 to get enough death certificates to cancel Jake’s various accounts. The best thing (and this is sarcastic) is how you can call the same company 20 times and explain the horrid circumstances to 20 different people, and those 20 different people will all tell you something completely different and when you call the 21st time–there are no notes or records that you have ever called before. This is a true story and it happened with multiple companies-not just one. I told Jake’s best friend that I never wanted to talk on the phone or be put on hold again. Ever. Entire days were spent on the phone.
Initially, people I spoke with were perfectly nice and made me promises that were never kept. When I called one of Jake’s credit card companies, they told me that they were just going to write off the balance he owed (the card was in his name only). Well, that didn’t happen and that credit card company is going after Jake’s “estate” (which is a funny word–makes us sound like we actually have money or something). Jake also had a leased vehicle in his name only. It had about a year left on it-but when I called the car company, I was told that I could just return the vehicle and they would take care of it–I wouldn’t owe anything else. I was so relieved and in tears after phone calls like these–only to find out that none of it was actually true. Not only were the car people extremely rude upon return of the car, but they are going after the “estate” as well. Apparently they put the car up for auction and then the estate owes the different between what they get and what the car is worth. WHAT?!? If someone had told me that, I would have kept the car and made the payments for another year. The car was a lease–why do I now have to pay for the car outright? Grrrr. That car company lost my business forever.
I know in the “About Me” section, I said I wouldn’t be giving any advice. Well, I’m going to take that back for a minute and just offer three pieces of advice–because you never know.
1. Put together your last will and testament. We didn’t have one. I know the thought of it is upsetting, but it can save you and your family.
2. If at all possible, get life insurance.
3. Make sure you put aside money in order to pay King County a fee just in case you die here.