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My attorney’s copy of my Chapter 7 debt discharge letter arrived in my mail Jan. 17.

The miles of pacing around the neighborhood and up and down the beach, the mental and emotional turmoil, the fear of creditors coming after me, all of it was brought to an end with one matter-of-fact, anti-climactic sentence:

“It appearing that the debtor is entitled to a discharge, IT IS ORDERED: The debtor is granted a discharge under section 727 of title 11, United States Code, (the Bankruptcy Code).” 

“This document is proof that you have been discharged from all of your dischargeable debts held prior to your filing of the case,” my attorney said in his cover letter. 

Translation: my credit card debt was gone.

I had been waiting for this for months.  Actually, I had been dreaming of being debt free for years.  I just didn’t think I’d declare bankruptcy to get there.  Now, it was done. 

I had it all planned.

I poured an extra, big glass of my favorite wine (La Boca Malbec, $2.99 at my local Trader Joe’s). 

I opened iTunes.  I will dictate in my will that one piece of music be played at my memorial service. “Flamenco Sketches” from Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”

Miles’ slow, bittersweet, muted trumpet filled the room.  I opened Quicken and brought up my account list. 

I opened each credit account, entered “bankruptcy discharge” in the last payee/category field and the account balance in the payment field, zeroing it out.  Then I went to each account’s edit window, zeroed out the credit limit and checked “hide in lists.” 

Where I once had 11 accounts listed, I now had two, my checking and savings.  I have never felt so relieved.

I played two more songs.  

PBS ran a Josh Groban special one night last June. 

I hadn’t worked since January.  I was facing bankruptcy.  I hate asking for financial help, and I was about to ask my sister for a bridge loan to retain my attorney.   

Groban sang “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up).”  A year before, I would’ve dismissed this song as a piece of pop sentimentality.  On that summer night, I thought of the family and friends I knew would stand by me, and it moved me to tears. 

Six months later, I had made it to the other side. 

I have been a hardcore Frank Zappa fan since high school.  “Peaches En Regalia” is the quintessential Zappa song, intricate, edgy, way ahead of its time.  It’s also triumphant, the kind of song you play when you’ve left one phase of your life behind and are embarking upon another.

For your listening pleasure: