All week I’ve felt unsettled because of the searching process Mark and I had to go through to find the documents needed to close Jordan’s checking account. Earlier this week, I wrote about my fear that someone was fraudulently using his account. Last Friday, Mark spoke with someone from Jordan’s bank and found out the account has not been abused. The last activity on the account was on 10/12/08, the day Jordan died. Even though we are relieved, we know it is time to close the account. It is also time to close us off against fraud and try to ward off the kind of anguish this event has caused. We know we’ve taken too long to handle this business matter but every link to Jordan when he was alive is so hard to sever. It took me a year and a half to stop Jordan’s cell phone service. When I finally cancelled the service, it wasn’t planned. I was at the store upgrading my phone and when they asked about the other number on the account I was able, without explanation, say that the line was no longer needed.
I’ve handled some business matters preemptively, to stave off future pain. Things like notifying the fitness club that Jordan’s no longer a member, so they won’t send newsletters in the mail addressed to him with fitness tips. I alerted the dentist’s office of Jordan’s death so they were aware before his siblings came in for an exam. The dentist’s office was notified also because I couldn’t stand the heartbreak of seeing the 6- month, “time for a cleaning” reminders meant for Jordan.
Other business matters associated with Jordan’s death are harder to complete and require a level of choreography and planning that is surreal. Phone calls are rehearsed. I act out both sides of the dialogue trying to ready myself for all the questions that might be asked. For each call, I steel myself against the, “What happened?” question. There are times when I am more able to talk about the details of the accident, times when I need to talk about how Jordan died. Selfishly, it has to be on my terms. I don’t always have the emotional energy or trust my voice to tell the details of how Jordan died. Details or not, I know that I’ll have to say out loud, without equivocation, “My son died.” On most days that stunning, chilling piece of information is enough to resolve the affairs at hand.
Mark handled most of the business transactions related to Jordan’s death. He was executor of Jordan’s estate and given Power of Attorney. While both of us read the accident report, Mark was the only person other than a dear friend, who picked up the death certificates from the funeral home, to read Jordan’s death certificate. I’ve never seen a copy of the death certificate. I’ve only held the envelope that contains them. We’d been advised by our attorney to get multiple copies of it for the times when we would legally need to show proof of Jordan’s death. Having to prove my child’s death will never feel right. Living with the loss of a child is already doing the unimaginable. When Mark told me the reasons we’ll need to show Jordan’s death certificate I’ve moaned, “Have whoever needs proof to look at before and after pictures of you and I. Our eyes are proof that our son died.”
Confronted with the realities of what could happen if we left Jordan’s account open, we decided to gather the necessary documents and go to the bank together. As we searched, Mark and I realized that the documents related to Jordan’s death have not been kept in any orderly manner. Mark’s efforts to protect me from accidentally coming across the accident report or death certificate served to make them hard for either of us to find. He couldn’t remember where he put them and became more and more agitated as he searched. He finally located the death certificate(s) and laid the envelope that contained them on the kitchen counter while he went to search for the power of attorney letter. I looked at the envelope. I haven’t read the death certificate because I don’t want to know the time Jordan was pronounced dead. I know it is a number I won’t be able to shake from my head.
The death certificate was right in front of me. I touched the envelope. I yelled to Mark, “Maybe I should just read it. Part of me thinks I shouldn’t be so worried. I should just read it.” Mark came into the kitchen and said, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to. It’s hard to read. Don’t do it today.” I took a breath and then nodded my head in agreement, knowing he was right. I sat down and waited for Mark to locate the checking account statement. While I waited, I kept glancing at the envelope with the death certificates lying on the counter. Just looking at the envelope, the proof of death, took me back to the shock and rawness I felt in the weeks after Jordan died. I looked at the envelope, hating the fact that his death certificate means there’s no need anymore for his birth certificate. I know exactly where Jordan’s birth certificate is. My kids’ birth certificates are kept in a secure place so they can be easily found when needed for things like passports or wedding licenses. Jordan doesn’t need his birth certificate anymore. How am I supposed to bear that fact? I’m so angry that one of my parental duties now is maintaining order over legal documents associated with Jordan’s death. I have to close his checking account, a hallmark symbol to him of his increased responsibility and burgeoning adulthood.
Jordan is supposed to be in charge of Mark and my affairs, as we grow older. Our will stated that when he reached 25 he would be the legal guardian of his siblings. We told him of this responsibility the summer he turned 19. His response, typical of him was, “Cool.” We had no doubt that he would fiercely love, protect and provide guidance to his brother and sisters if anything happened to his dad and I. We told him of our belief in him and he told us he could handle it. That was the plan. That’s why it’s hard to have a file, a folder or anything dedicated to documents needed because Jordan is gone. Jordan should be here.