It’s strange to get a letter in the post labeled ‘To the Estate of’. They typically come along and require some sort of action or information.The first one I received sat, face down, for about two weeks. Yesterday I opened it again and called the number inside. The person on the other end, a very gentle-voiced man in the Estates Department (who knew there was such a thing?) offered his condolences for my loss.’My loss’: what an interesting turn of a phrase to describe the forced separation I am currently enduring.It’s like the folks who see me and say, ‘How are you?’Really? Do you want me to answer that with a platitude or give you the real answer?If it were my way, I could tell you I’m fine. However, that would be a lie.If you want the real answer, sit down a spell and let me tell you how undone I am. How empty half my heart is. How my stomach lurches at the thought of foods I enjoyed with my Christopher and can’t share with him anymore. Oh, that was too heavy for you? You’re welcome.Hopefully, one day soon, folks will stop asking how I am. At least in that way.The Estates Department required a death certificate, something I did not yet have in my possession. I could have ordered them from the mortician, but their cost to go pick them up was more than a few of my utilities. No, really. They charged the County fee for the documents and then charged a three-figure figure to go and get the documents. Nope.My computer protested, refusing to connect to my ancient printer: I was not able to print the downloaded version of the death certificate request form.After dutifully harumfing at both devices, I decided to simply go to the Records office. After all, even in 2016, not everyone has a printer at home — they had to have forms available, right? In this case, such an assumption was well-founded. There were pink forms for birth certificates, green forms for death certificates, and white forms for what seemed to be the Spanish version of one or the other. I filled out the green form, sighing each time I had to fill in a line that started with the word ‘Decedent’ and asked the clerk how long it would take for the certificates to be ready. She tapped a few keys on her computer. “Oh, it’s ready now.”A handwritten sign blared, “No Debit/Credit. Checks or Cash Only. No Bills over $20 Accepted.” She directed me to the nearest money machine. I left her with my completed and signed green form and walked back out into the sun. She told me it was in the lovely building, two over. The architecture buff in me wanted to Ooh and Aah at what was a very lovely building, but the purpose of my being in it distracted me from doing so. I found the machine, took out enough to cover the cost of three copies of the certificate, and returned to the Records office. After handing me my change, the clerk gave me the three copies I requested, along with an envelope.I didn’t read them as I closed the clasp on the envelope.I was talking with a health professional yesterday and she asked me if my church had grief counseling. I shared that it does not, but I wasn’t sure if counseling would do much beyond separating me from my hard-earned cash monies. I have my moments of complete instability, but even in those, I’m not going to do anything unstable. They are anxious moments, moments in which I wonder how to take the next step. I figure it out pretty quickly and the moment passes.Until the next one.I never know what will bring such moments on — they happen and they pass.When I got home, the postal carrier was just turning onto my street. I had enough time to put a copy of the certificate in the postage-paid envelope to the Estates Department. I pulled the crisp, money-like 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper out of the envelope and read it: no easy feat since some of the print was so small I should have had a microscope. Nonetheless, I read the important bits. The bits that gave an earthly inkling as to what caused my Christopher to leave.It didn’t help.It didn’t give me any sense of his being gone, that he won’t be back.I mean, I know he won’t but still …… there are those moments when it feels like just an extended separation.And I believe that’s what it is, in its own way.Not a ‘loss’, but a separation. Yeah.Not something that counseling can heal or remove or make disappear or soften.Not something that asking ‘How are you?’ will cause to scab over.It’s just too raw to explain.