Just Money

Like pretty much everyone, I have taken some hard knocks in my financial life and on Friday I had to make the dire decision to liquidate all of my equities (about half my portfolio). Of course the whole portfolio is down by about 50% since last September, so in monetary terms, this is a substantial hit, given that is the money my children and I live on.

Having made this decision however, a weird calm came over me. Of course I was relieved that it at least felt as though I had staunched the bleeding, but it was more than that.

I have always had an odd relationship with this money, the money I received as a result of Arron’s death. I had to sign away my right to sue airlines, and building management companies and whomever else could be blamed for the grand mal seizure that was 9/11. When I signed that final document, I felt as though I had sold my soul to the devil. When the checks arrived by Fedex several months later, they made me cry, because I felt as though the money was some kind of hideous replacement for Arron. Those checks felt like something evil. I deposited the checks quickly and soon had invested the money which we have lived off ever since.

I expected to be way more freaked out about losing so much of it. But like I said, I felt calm. The money carried an abstract quality, nothing more than a bunch of numbers on a page that grew or shrank with each monthly statement. Now it feels like I kind have the same amount as I used to have when compared to what everyone else has. We have all lost money, so the way I figure it, the value of the money has remained the same in relative terms. $100 dollars in September is worth $50 now. But I am probably just naive.

There was also this feeling of contentment that came over me when I thought of selling the house, and perhaps even renting a cute little apartment, divested of stuff that I had to sell off on Craig’s list. I imagined this simple life, where I had to make a lot of potatoes and lentil soup and where the kids and I would sit around and play Mexican Train on a weeknight. The thought actually made me happy. Ah, the idealism!

But that’s when I kind of stopped being scared and relaxed about the whole money deal. It is, after all, just money.

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  1. ANovelMenagerie March 17, 2009 at 12:49 am

    You can’t possibly imagine how much I am relating to your post right now. I vote you hang onto the house as long as you’re able to. Have you started book #2 yet? Listen to me… like a prodding mother!

    I read all of your posts and keep you in my thoughts and prayers, always!


  2. Betty and Boo's Mommy March 17, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Wow … what a powerful post. Thanks for sharing this with us. Definitely provides much to think about, as always.

  3. txmomx6 March 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I seem to be going through the same things …. trying not to panic at the thought of how much was lost last year (in more ways than one) ….. and remaining calm, because after all ….. it is only money.
    I hated those checks, too ….. he was worth WAY more than any check that could ever be written.
    Cheers to the calm,

  4. Crash Course Widow March 21, 2009 at 3:43 am

    I’m glad you shared this, Abigail. I’ve always had such a horrid antipathy and hatred toward the life insurance money I got too…and I felt like the lone, isolated freak who struggled so with the burden and guilt of living off of blood money, of (what felt like) ill-gotten gains, of a lottery I chose to accept in exchange for killing my husband.

    Ain’t it grand how grief can screw things around so much? So I especially appreciate hearing your feelings about it too.

    I had an awful, seductive thought when I finally sold my house and accepted the buyer’s offer two months ago, even though it meant I was losing close to $100,000 from what I paid for and then put into the house. I was horrified about what I was about to do, the money that I was about to “throw away,” but a new, serpent-like voice whispered in my ear: that I could finally be free of the burden of the life insurance money if I completed the deal. There’d be next to nothing left of that payout once the deal closed; any money I had left after the sale was from the equity of selling “our” marital home 2 years prior…not the blood money.

    It was a total mind game and calling a spade a shovel, but like you, I felt such a calming sense of relief. And like you said too, I also thought exactly the same thing: it’s just money. And as you and I and a bazillion other widows have learned, it doesn’t compensate for the price paid.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. Anonymous May 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    At least you have some money.

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