Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Eleven Months Since Leif's Death. Remembering Leif - Oahu, Hawaii - August 1987 - Age 12
How can the months go by so fast. Today it is eleven months since we drove to Tampa and found Leif dead on his kitchen floor. It seems like yesterday and yet it seems like an eternity without him. I still ask why. I still wonder what I could have done differently, or if it would have made any difference. I still remember his life, the whole of it. I still talk to him as though he can hear me and see me, even though I don't believe he can.
I remember times we had together, like this trip to a lookout above Honolulu, Oahu on one of the trips we took back to Hawaii from Chicago, this on in August 1987 when he was 12 years old. I wonder if that was the trip when he was so engrossed in "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card that he didn't even care about the beach at our favorite Bellows Beach, where we were staying in a cottage. He could talk for hours about that book and it's sequels. He read them all, through last year.
I wish he were here for a scintillating discussion, a hug, dinner.
I started reading "Outliers" tonight, The first chapter, about a town in Pennsylvania settled by Italian immigrants who nearly all came from the same village in Italy, a town where there was virtually no heart disease, no ulcers, no suicide, no crime, made me wonder where our society has gone so wrong, and how it fails men like Leif. The researchers concluded that this town is so healthy not because of a special diet, or exercise, or even genetics. These people are healthy because of their community and the way it functions, the social aspects of it.
Suicides are often detached and feel alone in our society. I wonder, would Leif have been happier in another milieu? What about the rest of us?
The book talks about neighbors stopping to talk with each other, spending time together, three generations living together, family meals, social organizations. Leif didn't know his neighbors, didn't have real friends in Tampa, lived alone, didn't join organizations. The only family meals he had were with us about once a month. The loneliness wasn't only the lack of a wife, it was a lack of human companionship, and I think that although he craved it, he didn't know how to make it work and eventually shut himself off from all but seeking the love he needed.
What happens to shy people, lonely people in our society? Do they just fade into the background, unseen and ignored by those around them?
I don't think Leif had a clue how many people were impressed by him, looked up to him, found him interesting. He may have intimidated them with his size and his mind. What a pity he didn't know how many people cared.