Month 03, Day 16, Year of Diagnosis.
Helen’s still working, but that will change soon. They came home a few weeks ago and confided that they cannae keep going. The underlayment had ripples of how hard coming to that conclusion was. They reconciled the feeling with the observation of not tipping the hourglass too much in Death’s favor. So it’s a function of paperwork and we’re getting a good idea of that windy, seemingly endless path paperwork will be paving. Hels’s prevailing concern is that I am not financially strapped by their death.
I came home tonight and Helen recounted their phone exchange with the company that manages the 401K Helen has through work. While it’d been a couple of hours since the exchange, the memory still raised their ire. Helen calls the company and is connected to, let’s call them Drew. Helen explains that they need access to their online account and wants to know the process for withdrawing funds, reason being that they’re terminal. Drew goes into a litany of if-thens that can be summed up as the ‘if-you-don’t-wait-until-your-nearly-100 penalty’ spiel.
What was likely a genuine attempt to be helpful explaining all the fees involved with an early withdrawal ended up being eclipsed by forgetting that time is not something Helen has in abundance, never mind the 10% processing fee they’d charge, “to give me my money.”
Drew then goes on to tell Helen that if they needed the funds now, they could borrow half the total, but would have to pay that loan back.
I watch Helen’s animated gestures convey their irritation as they repeat the phone conversation, unable to not be amused. I’ve heard similar exchanges before, and similar growing levels of exasperation that end with Helen reluctantly observing that the story’s root isnae funny. It’s not that I find it funny per se, I just know Helen. So I know that at some point, they’ll say that one thing that really injects a dose of reality without any coating or dressing.
“Who’s gonnae pay the loan back? Were ya no listening? I’m dying. I’m dying as I talk wi’ you. There’d be no one to pay it back.”
It isn’t until Helen tells Drew that they’re no making it easy to die in this country that Helen’s terminal status seems to register. With them being back at the start, “So, now, what do I need to do to get my money?”
Helen needs to quit their job, pay the taxes on it and wait the 1.5 months to avoid the 10% processing fee. All can be done online.
“Providing I can ever get into my account,” Helen tells me, “because whatever Drew did, I cannae log on. So there’s that.”
I go and get the ice cream bars that have been stowed in the freezer, the ’emergent’ stow-awayage that proved to be a great idea.
“It still isnae funny”
It’s a little funny.