Paying Bills, Living on Savings, and The Love of Familiarity

Well, I paid my bills this morning. That has to be done every month – they just keep coming. It’s not as if I’ve never done this before – I was single for 30 years (ok, I was a kid for 18 of those years, but still), and during my married life there was a brief period when I took over the bill paying from Don, but then he took it back. He didn’t like how I was doing it. But that’s the thing – for most of my married life, Don paid the bills.

My philosophy for theology professor taught us that the Greeks had four words for love – one for erotic love, familial (or brotherly) love, the unconditional love of God, and the love of familiarity. He used a story about his own grandparents to illustrate this love of familiarity – but it’s a familiar (sorry, couldn’t resist) story. It’s the long-term love that grows when people get used to each other. It’s what often causes a person to become listless and sometimes to die shortly after the death of a partner – because everything is different now and unfamiliar.

I don’t think I’m about to drop off, and I still have purpose in my life – at least as much as I did before. But I get the whole familiarity thing. After being together for 21 years, Don and I were very familiar. I relied on him for a lot.

Don was my biggest support for seminary. He was my biggest support for most things, actually.  And he took care of me.  Don and I were both care-takers, and I hope I took care of him, but I know he took care of me. We had different strengths in that area. One thing he did that I didn’t like doing was the day-to-day minutiae. I hate grocery shopping. Don did the lion’s share of that. I don’t like repetitive tasks. Like paying bills. Every month. Don did that. Now I have to do that.

Of course, every time I pay the bills, I have to look at the bank account, and that reminds me of my income. Which is practically non-existent.  I’m living on life insurance right now. Fortunately – very fortunately, I have enough. But every time I have to dip into the big account to transfer money into the checking account it’s a reminder that Don has done his best to provide for me, but it won’t last forever. Life is never certain. I knew this before, of course, but it’s a reminder.

The grieving continues. That’s a thing. But there’s a practical side to all of this. Grieving doesn’t get to happen in a vacuum. The world goes on. Bills have to be paid. Income has to be made – eventually. Gradually, there will be a new familiar.

The trick, I guess, is hanging on. It’s going forward. Doing what needs to be done. I’m moving to the new normal.

That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.


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