By Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

By Elder Zamora

I thank you for the large envelope I have received, in which you have generously quoted the vested value of $125,000.00, to be paid out to my named beneficiaries, should the inevitable happen earlier than planned.

I thank you for the moment of pause when I informed my girlfriend on the other end of the phone, the five second breath she drew after I mentioned the sum, during which I imagined the dread and fear that might be coursing through her.

What If something did happen? What if a plane crash, or a drunk driver, or heart disease, or (yeah most likely heart disease) but what if a drive by shooting? Or what if some escaped rabid creature from the zoo, say an ibex, what if that?

What if she were left alone to pick up the pieces from something so awful as that? What would money be then, when it certainly would not be love?

So on the phone I held on to my breath until she managed to quiver out the words: “$125, 000?”

I thank you Lincoln Life and Annuity Group for the subdued glee in her voice, still worn out from pulling an all night shift at the hospital, subsiding on crackers and diet cola. “$125 thousand… “

I thank you for the ease with which she materialized a list of debts to be settled, in order of size and importance. School debt second, paying off the car and maybe a down payment on a condo first, security always first, guns before butter, and then and only then the flights of fancy.

A trip maybe, Europe or Morocco, and furniture, the kind that you don’t put together yourself, the kind that gets delivered, she’s never owned anything like that, and she couldn’t quit of course, not for that sum, not for $125 thousand, not after the trip and the car and the condo and something for her parents, something nice that would take her father’s mind off his ailments, his failing eyes, his failing aortas. Something so wonderful that it couldn’t even be imagined by a man who cut hair for 36 years, and who now struggled to steady his rigid fingers around a cup of coffee. $125 thousand would make all the difference for everyone.

So I thank you, Lincoln Life, you and your underwriters, for the sleepy satisfaction with which she said good-night as she drifted off to sleep and dream of how she would pick up the pieces in the event of my unexpected end.

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