Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Breath of Kindness

It's been a week of lasts. And it's been a week of firsts. 

This was the week that the last of the insurance money I was hoping for, came to me in the form of a check for the value of my youngest daughter's car before the crash.

This was the last week that I had to dread another car payment coming off my bank for that same car that I had co-bought with her (she in one province, I in another) ... a car in which she was killed a month and a day later. Every time that I had to record that amount in my check register, another piece of me died. Now, nearly 18 months after her death and some 35 payments later, the insurance company sent me a check to pay her loan in full. 

This was the last week that I had to pretend that it didn't happen, that she was somehow still with me, tied to me by that payment every two weeks. 

That is hard. And it's also a relief, which brings me to the firsts.

This week, for the first (and hopefully the last) time, and at the suggestion of my financial consultant at my bank, I ended up having an appointment with a bank employee from a different bank who specialized in estates. She heard me, expressed her condolences, and walked me through the process of paying out that loan. 

"I want to make this as painless as possible for you," she said. Her eyes said what her professionalism could not - "I know how I would feel if I lost my daughter." 

For the first time, I was grateful for this poky little Island with its rural mentality. It had always niggled at me a little bit that everyone has to know each other's business and heritage here. I'm a private person, and that kind of interest in family bloodlines seems ... almost incestuous somehow. But ... this woman across the desk from me remembered me from 30 years ago, remembered my name and remembered that we lived in the country, "down east" as she called it - referring to the east end of the Island and the part that (on the map) looks like it's on Island's underbelly. She was a bank employee back then too, working for a different bank, where we just happened to have our mortgage. And now I just happened to be sitting across from her, thirty years later. 
2009 Hyundai Accent

I don't believe in coincidences. I had prayed, before I left to go to my appointment, for God to go before me and to make the rough places smooth. I believe that He had been working ahead of time (even 30 years in advance!), knowing I would pray that exact prayer at that moment, so He did go before me, much more than I had even meant when I prayed. Thirty years more.

The bank employee even put a rush on the request and stopped payment on another auto-debit that was to come off next week, the day before the payment request was auto-initiated by their computer. (I just happened to mention to her that the next payment was due to come off next week so should I be concerned about it? A flurry of activity from her and it was taken care of. Just. Like. That.) 

She told me that the loan was thus-and-such amount of money, which meant that there would be some money left over after it was paid. And she made it possible for me to be paid the balance left over. In cash. WITHOUT filling out reams of paperwork and WITHIN the rules of the bank itself. I remember standing at the wicket, with her walking another bank employee - a teller - through the screens to process the transaction, watching as the teller counted out the money on the wicket counter and handed it to me - plus the loose change in my other hand. I had the sensation that this was happening to someone else and that I was just watching it unfold ... a curious sensation.

It wasn't the paying off of the loan or the payback of the remaining money that touched my heart, though. It was this lady's willingness to go the extra mile to prevent what could have easily been the beginning of an ordeal for me. 

But it wasn't. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life instead. 

I kept remembering what my daughter had said to me the day I arranged the loan with the car dealership, and her sitting across from the dealer almost all the way across the country from me. She'd been homeless for a couple of days and she was highly motivated to get a job and "make something of herself" - (she was ALREADY "something", but she had to prove it to herself, I guess.) Anyway, she was on the phone with me and she said to me, "I'll pay you back someday, Mom. I swear." And she meant it.

Well. I guess, for the first time honey, you paid me back. I just wish it wasn't this way.

And besides ... you gave me so very much just by being you, taught me so much about life by the way you lived yours. And that can't be measured in dollars and cents. 

It just can't.

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