These Are The Things

The insurance company sent me an Excel spreadsheet of "non-salvageable items". It's mine and David's job to go through the list and add the price we paid and the year we purchased it.

For every. single. item.

 My favorite item. I'm thinking of claiming it as an ancient relic from Pompeii.

My favorite item. I'm thinking of claiming it as an ancient relic from Pompeii.

There are about 2,500 things on this list, and it's not even everything. (For example, since I began working on the list, I got another one from the dry cleaning company of clothing that they couldn't salvage. That list, thankfully, includes pictures.) I began by breaking it down into subcategories, and then pricing the easier stuff. You know, so it feels like I'm accomplishing things.

It is a frustrating process, to say the least. They won't give us what we paid--instead, they depreciate the items based on how long we've had them, and essentially "buy them used" from us. And then we go out and replace everything. And then we show the receipts for what we bought, and they theoretically pay us the difference. Except we only have a year to do this, and it sounds like a long time, right? But bear in mind it took over 2 months to get the first of several lists, and we probably won't be back in our actually house until September or October. It's fun to buy stuff, at first, but then, like anything else, it gets harder and harder the more you have to do it. 

 Everything except Damien needs replacing. My ocean picture. Our tree. The stockings. The gifts. The joy.

Everything except Damien needs replacing. My ocean picture. Our tree. The stockings. The gifts. The joy.

And then there's the question of money. I hesitate to write about this, since people have been unbelievably generous to my family. But, contrary to what some people in our government would have us believe, facts are facts. And the facts are these: we got a pay-out on our cars, but haven't received anything else. (The money for rebuilding was paid into an account we can't even access. The insurance company is paying for our rent house--which we moved into in part because I hoped it would encourage them to move things along, since, you know, I'm living on their dime. But I suppose a thousand or whatever dollars a month is a drop in the bucket. Compared, of course, to bickering over whether the cost of replacing a toy car was really $3.99 and not $3.50.)  And we won't until the lists are completed and then haggled over. We had to replace two cars (and pay for Atticus's service, which was incredibly beautiful and worth every penny, but still, $10,000 is more than we had). Even though I hate carrying debt, I opted for a loan on my van, so we would have that money "just in case".

Oh hey, fun fact: I'm still paying the mortgage on my house. Including taxes and insurance. Corporations are people, my friend, but not the sort of people who experience sympathy.

The boys' winter wardrobe and toys were almost entirely replaced by kind, kind friends. But every time I turn around, I discover something new that I'm missing.

 Things I owned in this picture but no longer do: the shirt, the jacket, the headband (any hair thing except plain elastics), the lipstick, the mascara (I'd just cry it off, anyway), the bra (I was wearing one of my least-favorites on the day everything burned, and am not back up to 3), probably the shoes (I only owned the pair I was wearing up until last week), the pants, etc.

Things I owned in this picture but no longer do: the shirt, the jacket, the headband (any hair thing except plain elastics), the lipstick, the mascara (I'd just cry it off, anyway), the bra (I was wearing one of my least-favorites on the day everything burned, and am not back up to 3), probably the shoes (I only owned the pair I was wearing up until last week), the pants, etc.

Simply put: there's not a lot of joy to be found in buying things you used to own with money you don't really have. But still, I'm struggling through the list. It is incredibly emotional.

Some things are hitting me hard, in ways I anticipated: 

 The carseats aren't on the list, so I have to add them and then prove I owned them. Fun!

The carseats aren't on the list, so I have to add them and then prove I owned them. Fun!

Anything with Atticus. An expected blow, but one that knocks me to my knees and leaves me breathless every time. The deep, deep regret I feel about not giving away his bike, bed, pulse ox, and special spoon fast enough. The pain of g-tube extenders and syringes we will not need to replace. The complete certainty that "child's cell phone singing toy" refers to the white one (not the black one) since it was listed near other things found in the basement. He and Everett were sharing clothes, but not shoes. His swing. Oh, Atticus, my heart will never be the same.

I'm also getting hit in unexpected ways, like bumping into a table in the dark, one I'd forgotten or hadn't really realized was there. "One bag Friskies cat treats," for example.

 Oh Paka Mwevi, I haven't even begun to mourn you.

Oh Paka Mwevi, I haven't even begun to mourn you.

Or "(2) pages w/ poems written on them". What poems? Poems I wrote? Poems someone wrote for me? Poems I, or someone else, copied out by hand? Or maybe they weren't poems, since it seems odd to have two pages of poetry. I would expect either one or an entire notebook. Maybe it was a letter? Because I lost all my letters, including the ones from when I was in the Peace Corps. Which reminds me that my year books aren't on that list. All the messages people thoughtfully wrote (as well as the meaningless "have a great summer"s and the random defacement of pictures...) Photo albums, however, are.

Or was it sympathy note for Atticus? Because all of the flowers, the cards and notes sent for Atticus, which meant so very much, tangible proof that people loved him, are gone up in smoke.

 This was my stuffed cat, Deefee. My older sister gave her to me on my first Christmas. I slept with her every single night of my life until well into my teens.

This was my stuffed cat, Deefee. My older sister gave her to me on my first Christmas. I slept with her every single night of my life until well into my teens.

All of these things. Over 2,500 of them, and that's just the beginning (and counts things like "misc children's toys" as one item). I loved many of those things. I'd had some of those things since I was a baby. Some of them (my great-grandmother's needle point chair, my mother's childhood copies of certain books) even predated me. And I just can't wrap my brain around it. I lost everything. But when I think about it, I just don't feel it except momentarily. I'm not sure if my brain just can't handle it, or if it's saying, "But who cares about all that, when you'd already lost the most important thing of all?"

Both seem plausible. Both are, after all, my reality. I wonder if I'll ever truly smile again.

 I miss him. So much.

I miss him. So much.