Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Passing of Time - The Shaping of a Life - Leif - Japan - October 1982 - Age 7

I've been thinking again tonight about time, about how we measure time, our human perception of it and how it shapes our thinking. How time exists without human thought, on earth measured in days, months, years dependent upon the motion of the earth and moon, but the meaning of those measurements is assigned only by us. Some anniversaries are happy occasions. Some are sad or even tragic. We are approaching the first anniversary of Leif's death, and the details are still so raw and fresh in my mind. How much of the truth do I tell? How many details? Why is that anniversary so significant? Why is marking one year, and then another, so fraught with emotion? It's just another day . . . and yet that day signifies that a boundary, an emotional and temporal boundary, has been crossed.

Remember how we looked forward to birthdays when we were children, anxious to grow another year older, craving the status we thought came with being older and more mature, the added privileges. Remember as parents how we celebrated our children's birthdays, made the day special and memorable with parties, gifts, friends, photos. How different it is to anticipate the arrival of the anniversary of a loved one's death. To know you've been without that person for a year. There are no traditions to make those anniversaries unless we make our own.

In 16 days, that anniversary will arrive, sixteen days until we've been a whole year without Leif. Yet he was such a Colossus in our lives that he towers over us still. There isn't a day we don't talk about him, think about him, wish we had him back. Not a day we don't remember some detail of his life, many details of it, not a day I don't picture him walking in my door. Not a day I don't remember his hugs, his voice, his laugh.

When I started this blog nearly a year ago, I said it was to remember the good times. That was what I thought I was going to do and I have, in words and pictures, but that was not enough, and was not true to his life and death. I've also bared my feelings, revealed my grief, and even tried to let Leif's words speak for him. I can't pretend that memories are all good, or that they are enough to sustain me or relieve the sadness. It's not enough to have memories. It's not enough to have photos. It's not enough to have a few paltry keepsakes, or to have some of his gadgets. None of it fills the hole his death made in our lives.

And yet, that is all we have, that and our love, with nowhere to put it, so we must be grateful for every photo, every memory, each a gift to preserve his life as long as we can see them and remember. Every day of his life was a gift. Leif lived. Thirty-three years, far too short, and without the measure of happiness he deserved. But he lived, and I want his memory to go on.

So where does this blog go from here? For how long? I feel as though on the coming anniversaries of his death and memorial services, I need to tell those stories, the ones I couldn't tell last year. And after that? Memories are still with me, so for a time, the blog will go on, past the first year, as long as I can. Will the day come when I have no more to say? Will the day come when I forget the sound of his voice? Will the day come when I no longer see his smile? Will the day come when I can let go?

The photo above was taken somewhere in Japan in October 1982. Leif was seven years old. He always loved climbing in trees.

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