Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Blog Journey - The As-Yet Unchanging Face of Sorrow

I started this blog right after Leif died without any plan or idea of what I wanted to do with it, other than remember my son and share those memories with anyone else who wanted to read them. I had no organization to it, no progression other than which memory came to me, or which photo I wanted to post and write about. At one point, I thought about trying to tell a chronological story of his life, but I didn't like it. I didn't want to just spend time on his infancy for a long period. It seemed to me that a more or less stream of consciousness of memories was more real, more like the way we do remember those we love, in random incidents that come to mind.

I also thought, when I started, that I wanted to remember the "good times," but it quickly became clear to me that doing that was also false. I had to be honest about both grief and the times that weren't happy.

And, I discovered that there isn't a way to create a truly rounded picture of Leif's life, because these are mostly photos of him, alone, and some with us, his parents, a few with his brother when they were children. There are whole areas of his life that are missing, without photos of him with friends and lovers, without accounts of their part in his life. However, it is not my story to tell those parts of his life, and I probably could not do it fairly.

Tomorrow it will be six months since Leif died. This is incomprehensible to me. How could we have lived six months without him?

I have not run out of memories, nor things to say, and there are still people from Leif's past who are just now finding out about his death, and they, too, have memories to share.

Now I see some groups of photos that tell a story in themselves, and I am going to try to post some of them that way and see how it works.

I thought that perhaps by six months, I would feel less sadness and sorrow about Leif's death, about the hole in our lives, but I don't. Each day when I wake up, I have to discover anew that Leif is not here. Each time I look at a photo or something that was his, I am struck all over again with missing him.

Except for a funeral or wake, we make grief a private affair. None of us wants to embarrass ourselves with tears (or worse, the kind of sobbing and crying that's much more vocal) in front of others. They don't want to be confronted with it, either. What can they do? They ask how we are doing, and we obligingly say we are all right, or, as I usually say, "It depends on the day and the hour," and leave it at that. But we are not all right.

There are times when I can talk calmly and rationally about Leif and his death, and times when I'm just choked up and can't speak.

Yes, all of this is normal, but it's also lonely. No one can really comfort us. No one can really see inside.

Maybe that is for the best. Although we are sometimes told it is better not to bottle up strong emotions, it is important for us, for me, to be able to control them and go on with life. But I will still cry, though I may do it alone.


This photo of Leif was taken May 22, 1977 in Charlottesville, Virginia. We went for an outing and visited an old mill and the Michie Tavern. It was a hot day. I remember having ice cream cones. Leif loved them, loved ice cream. He was 28 months, or two years and 4 months old in this photo.

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