Thursday, April 1, 2010


been sort of

dreading this day.

have to get madeline

a passport for our

upcoming trip to the banff.

excited that my

3.5 month-old baby

will have a passport

and will be traveling

outside the country.

also really excited

about the trip,

but i’ve found that

dealing with government

institutions is less than

thrilling since



applying for a passport

for a minor shouldn’t

be an issue.

the rules dictate that

both parents must be physically

present for a passport

application to be filed.

for most families,

this is likely just

an extreme inconvenience,

trying to find a time

when both parents

can meet in the same place,

to focus on the same objective,

at the same time.

but for me,

it’s a process that creates

an extreme amount of anxiety.

anxious about walking

into the passport

office with

madeline’s birth certificate,

social security card.

and, um, her mother’s

death certificate,

anxious about explaining

why i’m alone.

anxious about trying to

convince the people

in the office

that i’m not trying to

obtain a passport

in order to

kidnap my child,

and take her out

of the country.

anxious about talking

to another unflinchingly cold

government employee.

anxious about dealing with

another bureaucratic nightmare.


maybe i’m worrying about

this a little too much?

let’s just go.

it can’t be

that bad.

packed up madeline

and headed to the glendale.

found the passport office

and sat down

with all my paperwork,

filling in everything

but the boxes

asking for madeline’s

hair color

(sort of blond, sort of bald…how do i answer that one?)

and the ones

specific to


no box to check

for “deceased.”

just gonna have to

rely on the rather


death certificate

to help the woman

behind the counter understand

my situation.

nervously walked up

to the counter

and said,

“i need to apply for a passport for my baby”

she looked me

up and down,

(yes, i look like an unshowered scumbag in need of haircut, but seriously…)

then leaned over the counter,

through the open glass,

staring down at madeline.

then her eyes shot

back to me.

“is the mother coming in?”


here we go.

“no. she’s dead.”

she simply stared at me.

no reaction.

after a very uncomfortable

few seconds that found

another seemingly heartless

government worker

winning yet another

staring contest with me

(seriously…do they train these people to be unresponsive robots?).

i said,

“i have a death certificate.”

“give it to me.”

she demanded.

so i did.


let’s just get

this over with.

she looked everything

over and disappeared

with my documents.

back 5 mins later

and we’re done.

good…i’ve had

enough for one day.


  1. Matt, I've had one of those passport days too. You've expressed the emotion of it well. And do we really have to carry the death certificate every time we cross the border until our kids are 18? My first trip to Canada, I didn't know this and the female border official was just as you've described here. No emotion, just gives me a lecture on bringing the death certificate along.

    So the second time flying into Canada, I took the death certificate. But I also looked for the youngest, sweetest-looking male official. The minute he heard the word "deceased," he said, "Oh that really sucks" and sent me through without requesting the certificate.

    So the moral of my story was sweet, young men may not be jaded by the system yet.

  2. I had to get a renewed passport for my son, he is 12, we went to England, (my home place) for Christmas. I hate my husbands' death certificate..... Cause of death was "multiple gunshot wounds". I hide it from my children......yes, it sucks..... shit!

  3. I am lucky, living in a small town, the passport people were really nice when I got my son his passport.

  4. I love your raw honesty. Today is a "fuck!!!" day. Most people flinch at that word. I totally understand that it means more than anyone who doesn't live in this world could ever understand.
    There are some days when that is all I am screaming in my head.
    Today is one of those days.
    Thanks for reassuring me that my reaction to the government robots is perfectly normal for a widow/er.