My husband is the world's most organized person. He has neatly labeled everything in our filing cabinet, from information about our home renovations to receipts from our son's bus passes and phone bills. I can lay my finger on anything at any time, which has come in very handy, particularly at tax time or when the solar panels spring a leak.
I've also asked him to file away a bullet-point list of what to do in case he dies. Everything I'll need to know - banking, insurance, online accounts, pensions, and whom to contact, laid out clearly and concisely (because I doubt I'll be in any condition then to do much thinking). I know from past experience that probating wills and dealing with insurance companies is a tangled business, and anything we can do ahead of time to make it easier will help. I think funeral homes should put out such a pamphlet, tailored for the local community, to take some of the stress out of an already stressful time. (There's my next writing project!)
But no matter how well you prepare with regard to finances and property, nothing quite prepares you emotionally. Months after my friend Tracey's death, I still feel like falling apart when I run across an old email or posting from her on my website. It's a sudden punch to the stomach, out of nowhere. I open a drawer and find a pair of socks she knitted, cozy and beautiful. I open up boxes of Christmas ornaments in the crawlspace and there's the Scottish nutcracker she gave us, and the ornament she gave me with "Sisters" written on it.
This week my husband went on a cleaning binge and accidentally threw out a card I'd gotten from Tracey with a sweet sentiment written in it. I'd wanted to keep it forever, even while knowing I couldn't. You have to part with things, and people, eventually. I just wasn't ready to let go of it yet. I'm not ready to let go of her yet.