Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've spent what little spare time I've had in the last couple of weeks trying to get our taxes ready for the CPA.  It has for years now been a last minute ordeal for us because our taxes are incredibly complicated and because I had an interest in a commercial partnership, so I have to wait on a Schedule K-1 every year that makes an extension inevitable.  So, come late August and on into September, I sit down with a literal mountain of data, sort through it, organize it, create spreadsheets and calculate mileage allowances, etc.  It is never an easy process, and every year I tell myself next year I will do all this as I go along, and then, every year, I never do.

This year was by far the worst.  Sitting here right now, at the midway point of September, I am still chasing two critical documents I need - no doubt the originals were lost somewhere in the mail in the forwarding process.  I had receipts here, there and every where because of the move - despite trying very hard to get it all together when I packed.  And I have Mother's final return and information to deal with.  I thought I had most of it together finally Sunday as I licked my wounds from the awful season football opener (I figured I was already royally pissed off - might as well really seal the deal and finish prepping my taxes), only to realize I still had items missing Monday morning when the beer and frustration wore off a little.

At one point Sunday as I scrambled to find where I put the packet of original death certificates for Mother, I had to thumb through all our critical documents and came across Kelsey's birth and death certificates and several documents of Mom's - her nursing license, her marriage license, my doctored birth certificate and the original one where I was still listed as Baby McGuigan (no one puts Baby in a corner...or a lock box, as the case may be).  I collapsed into Greg's arms at one point sobbing, just overcome by having to touch all those documents again just to be able to file a stupid tax return.  I didn't tell him that I would have likely handled that better if the Steelers had given me a win.  My guess is he probably knows that and doesn't hold it against me.  For all the things that have tugged at our union over the last couple of years, maybe that is why it has held up:  there are things we accept about one another that no one else would understand or tolerate.

But, even as that awful Sunday dawned into a beautiful Monday and now a crisp fall Tuesday, it is like trudging through quicksand to get the last finishing touches on the packet.  I want it out of my house like it's a poison.  I mean no one likes doing taxes, but for me this year has been particularly excruciating.  Last year, with three returns to handle - Kelsey's final return and Mom's right after she died plus our own, I think I was just too numb to react.  The woman who had worked on Mom's return for years was very kind and took care of Kelsey's and Mom's without me having to do much.  Now, a year later, that numbness has worn off and I am left with reliving what tax season means to a family battling illness.  It means facing just how horribly expensive and complicated it is.  I'm remembering all of that.  And hating every second of it.

As most families battling an eating disorder can tell you, the disease has multiple tentacles that reach into all areas of your life and attach themselves there.  Because most insurance plans in most states offer very little coverage for issues directly related to its treatment, it means - as I've talked about before - you have to pay out of pocket for doctors and resources and then fight with the insurance companies to get reimbursed.  You will likely lose the fight and then be left with trying to get some relief as deductions on your tax return.  Of course, as you add all that up at the end of the year, you are faced with the reality of exactly how much you spent.  I've mentioned before, I think, raiding the change jar to be able to afford groceries at one point.  Every penny I earned went to medical expenses for a couple of years running.  Our retirement was gone, we had a second mortgage on the house to pay for expenses, and, in the end, we simply couldn't afford to help Kelsey any longer and so her death certificate sits next to her birth certificate in a strong box downstairs.  These are all the things, all the struggles, I have to relive when I touch the receipts and prep the spreadsheets I have to in order to fulfill my obligation as a taxpaying citizen of this country without getting completely screwed in the process.

One more thing to think about as I consider what role I should play in the eating disorder community.  I think about all the parents or spouses of individuals struggling with the disease now, and think about them trying to juggle just the stress of the disease with trying to find a way to pay for it.  And how alone they surely feel at times.  I get that.  I was there.  Sometimes I feel like I can't abandon them to that fate, but sometimes I feel that all I want to do is live my simple life in my little house and aspire to only have to file a 1040EZ once again...

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