Today was one of those steps-back days. We went to see a Neil Diamond tribute show, and found ourselves overcome with nostalgia, sadness and longing for Leif. Many of the songs seemed to have words and themes that expressed either how we felt, or how we think Leif felt. We hadn't expected to go to a Neil Diamond concert (put on by Jack Berrios and his band and singers) and be overwhelmed with emotion about Leif and our loss.
Leif was not a Neil Diamond fan. In his huge iTunes collection of music, and CDs, there isn't a single Diamond song. I know he heard us play Diamond's music often while he was growing up, but I don't think it spoke to him then. The themes were probably too grown up for him when he was younger, and by the time he was in his thirties, he had other avid musical tastes. However, I think that if he has listened to these songs, he would have appreciated them in his thirties.
The song that particularly affected us was "'I am,' I said," especially the refrain:
"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still
We enjoyed the music, but we were sad, and the sadness continued throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, dissolving into bitter tears. We talked, again, as we have so many times, about Leif's life, his death, and why it happened, wishing again that we knew why, and knowing we will never know for sure what precipitated him putting the gun to his head that particular night, even if we can surmise the reasons behind it. Wishing again we could have helped him, that we could have him back.
Thinking about this reminded me of a Yahoo IM chat he and I had on October 27, 2005. What he had to say speaks directly to the theme of loneliness and why men are lonely.
I have edited out most of my comments (prairiejerri) and left his intact. He was chatting under his Graeloch identity. He said:
Honestly, I think that there is a reason that women tend to outlive their husbands and that you hear of old men losing their wives and dying of a broken heart. The bottom line is that men are lucky to have one lifelong friend in their lives and that is their wives.
Men can't have women friends because sex always gets in the way. We can't have male friends because sex gets in the way. So the only friend a man can ever have is a person that is both the lover and a friend or a mate.
It comes down to the primate pecking order. Men can't be friends. PERIOD. Comrades, yes. Buddies, yes. But not friends. A man can't open up to another man because that is to reveal weakness which can never be done to another man. You can only reveal weakness to someone that is not part of the game, e.g. a woman.
It's both kind of inspiring and kind of sad. Lonely, too. It is both triumphant and tragic. Men are solitary, sad lonely creatures; strong and proud and lonely. All we really want is a woman. Just one woman to love us.
prairiejerri: You'll make me cry. (Now there's another thing I don't like about myself -- tears, which your Dad seems to think I just turn on at will but it's completely beyond my control.)
I would be flattered if I invoked a woman's tears. More than anything a man wants to be appreciated by a woman for the trials and tribulations he endures to be a man, and worthy of a woman's love.
For men there are two differnt things. Genetically it is an advantage for men to mate with as many women as possible. Simple and period. Not the same for women. Well, here is the deal - Men don't know they want intimacy until they have experienced it.
prairiejerri: What if they never do?
They may eventually feel a need they can't explain.
The cliche is that men don't understand women but the bigger and more damaging truth is women don't understand men. Men are beasts. Brilliant, evolved beasts, but beasts none the less.
prairiejerri: Beauty and the Beast wasn't so far off, eh?
No, it wasn't. Men are noble beasts and nothing more. A great allegory and one men love. The poetic idea of fighting of a pack of wolves for our woman is romantic beyond belief. The only thing sweeter then the victory is the nursing we receive from the woman afterwards.
Leif repeated these things to me at other times, and expanded upon it in an essay about the sexes that I will post here some day.
I think his loneliness was also reflected in the many, many photos he took of himself. He took very few of others, except when he was in a ralationship with a woman. When I see all the photos he took of himself, it seems to me that he is saying, "I am," I said . .
The photo above is one he took while living in Manhattan, Kansas on April 26, 2003.