Her mouth dropped when the person at the local Social Security office saw Bonnie Ballew of Bremerton standing there, alive as could be.
"Am I supposed to be dead or something?" Ballew, 83, asked the employee.
"As a matter of fact, that's what it is," the employee responded looking at Ballew's paperwork.
That was last year, and Ballew was in the Social Security office on a routine visit when the two discovered she'd been dead since 1997.
Ballew, now at Martha and Mary nursing home in Poulsbo, was one of the lucky ones able to clear up the confusion in months, not years.
But she held off telling a son who was serving abroad in the military that she was dead until he returned home.
"Oh, by the way, do you know that I was dead?" she laughed. "Keep a sense of humor," she advised.
Lydia Claesson, 83, of Bainbridge Island, couldn't agree more.
The government deemed her "dead" twice after her husband passed away in 1994. On one occasion, it removed deposits from her bank account. Claesson packed up her passport, driver's license and birth certificate and made the trip to the Social Security office. There, she and the surprised workers discovered she'd been declared dead instead of her husband.
On another occasion, she tried to pick up a prescription, only to discover her insurance coverage wasn't active.
"I asked them to find out why. Well, they said that 'you're dead,' " Claesson said.
Again, she gathered her paperwork and drove to the Social Security office, then in Bremerton, where she told the Social Security folks, "I'm not my ghost. It's really me," she laughed.
How bad is that?! Being alive, but being told you are dead! Do you know what is worse? Being alive and yet acting dead! This is what Paul addresses in Rom 6:11, where he wrote, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
That word "reckon" means to live in the reality - count it so. It is inconvenient to be alive and yet to be recorded as dead by the Social Security Office, but it is downright tragic to be spiritually alive and yet act spiritually dead. Such a thing impacts our effectiveness in this life, and undermines our future reward in the next. You don't need to gather all forms of identification to correct this - you just need to claim your new identity in Christ!
Are you alive? Simply live like it!