Friday, July 11, 2008

The Tyranny of Choice

It's past midnight now, so it is April 11, and I didn't write this yesterday on the day when I was thinking it through. Yesterday, it was exactly 3 months since Thursday, April 10th, the day we found Leif dead and cold on his kitchen floor. And yesterday we received his autopsy in the mail, pages of medical detail that only told us what we already knew. I didn't really think we'd find new answers there, but there was a faint hope.

I'd had a really bad day on Tuesday the 8th. I don't know whether it was anticipation of this day, because somehow, three months seems significant, a quarter of a year already since he died, or because I was thinking that three months ago was the last day he was alive and communicated with me, but I was overcome with grief. I must have gotten past it, because today wasn't as hard as Tuesday.

But, in those three days, I kept thinking about the tyranny of choice. Choices we make that affect not only our own lives, but many others, choices we make that change the future, not only for us, but for our family and friends.

Leif made a choice on April 9th. We can makes some pretty good guesses about why he made it, but we can't be certain. The choice he made, though, is clear. He put a loaded handgun to his forehead and pulled the trigger. In doing that, he erased his future. He may have only considered erasing his own pain, his debts, his other problems. He may not have considered that he was also erasing the possibilty of any future happiness, love, children, but maybe he thought they were always going to be out of reach for him, that loneliness and unhappiness and debt was all he faced. We will never know.

I do know that in making his choice, he also chose for us. Many suicides think that their loved ones will be better off without them. This is certainly not so in our case. We miss Leif unbearably. What he chose for us, is the death of our beloved son, a future without him in it, a future without seeing him, with no grandchildren from him, missing all the things we used to do together or talk about.

The tyranny of choice is that once this choice is made, there is no going back, no reversing it. It's final. And we all are left to live with it. His parents. His brother. His friends. We all suffer from his choice.

Did he consider that? Maybe at some point he did, but at the point of decision with the gun in his hand, was he rational? Did he decide this was best? Or was it a sudden spur-of-the-moment decision, to get all the pain overwith?

We try to find a way out of our depression and sorrow that our son is gone. It's not working. Someday it will, but not yet. It's too soon, too raw. Too many reminders, his belongings, the memories and wishing he'd be coming through the door. For now, the tyranny of choice that chose for us as well, chose to change our future, is hanging over us like a pall.

We have a future, but it is changed. Changed by the tyranny of choice.

This photo is one Leif took of himself, in his cycle gear, in the parking lot where he worked. It was taken in November 2007, not long after he he sent me an email that he life seemed dark and purposeless and he was searching for a reason to exist. I found the photo, with others, on his iPhone, one of his beloved techo gadgets. It's that sardonic look he often had, that looking down on life look.

In going over his computers, I found that the only times he took photos of people in the past several years, other than himself was when he was in a relationship with a woman, and then he photographed her. Otherwise, he only took photos of himself or his belongings. It's an odd sign of his lack of connection to others and his desperate need for a relationship.

He did take a lot of photos of himself and his things, but he never looked happy in them. The only photos of him looking happy in the past couple of years were ones we took when he was with us and his brother's family, his nieces and nephew. There must have been other times, when he wasn't with us, but there is no record of them.

Sad, so sad, that he was so lonely.

Sad, so sad, that he made that tyrannical choice from which there is no return. For him, or for us.

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