Thursday, April 9, 2009
The Day Leif Died - April 9, 2008
The day Leif died, April 9, 2008, we had no idea anything was wrong until just after 1:00 p.m. I got call from Rodney, his supervisor at Humana where Leif worked. He said Leif hadn't showed up for work that morning and he was unable to reach him by phone or text message. He was worried, he said, because Leif was always reliable and always called in if he was sick. He knew Leif rode a motorcycle and knew of his accident the previous July. He wondered if something had happened to him.
I was concerned, but not scared at that point. I told Rodney I would try to find Leif and would ask Leif to call him, or I would. I was startled to get his call, though, because never in all the years Leif worked had I ever had a call from a supervisor of his, or anyone at the places he worked, saying he hadn't shown up. I was the emergency contact in Leif's record and that's why Rodney called me, a good supervisor trying to find out if his team member was safe, not just be mad at him for not showing up.
I then started calling Leif, over and over, on all three of his phones and sending text messages to the cell phones as well. He preferred text messaging and we did a lot of that. Here are the messages I sent to his iPhone:
"Are you ok? Your supervisor just called. Said you are several hours late for work and has heard nothing from you. Rodney XXXXXX. XXX-XXX-XXX. Call me. I am worried!" (Xed out phone number and last name for this blog.)
"Where are you?"
"Called Rodney back and said i couldn't get in touch with you. He said he was worried because you ride the bike on days like this. Hope you are ok and aren't jeopardizing your job. Worried!"
"More and more worried! Where are you? Asleep? Wrecked? Hurt? Drunk? Run away?"
"Hard to believe you would still be asleep on a workday even if you missed your alarm. My anxiety level is rising rapidly. Call. Text. Something!"
"Wilson said he would let me know if he heard from you and he hasn't called so I guess you still haven't made it to work or called him. It's almost 3 pm."
"Wondering if I should call your apt manager to check on you or drive there. But don't know how I could get in."
"Please, son, let me know you are ok."
"You in a coma? Know what day it is? Time?"
"My imagination isn't doing me any favors. Please let me know what's up!"
"Going to work out and swim. Taking this phone. Wonder if i should be driving there instead. I hope there is some good explanation for this that doesn't involve injury or worse."
"In my overwrought imagination, I can only think of 4 reasons you can't reply with a txt msg. Lost both phones. Badly injured. In jail. Dead. Unless of course you are so pissed off at me you want me to worry like this, but I can't figure out any reason for that to be so. Gad, it's been over 4 hours since your boss called. Nothing. I'm scared."
"Do I need to start calling hospitals? Would they even tell me if you were there with our privacy laws?"
"Hell, I don't know where you are, can't even get into your apt to check on you. I'm going to start calling hospitals and the police if I don't hear from you by 9 pm."
"If you are there and able to respond, please do. Talked to Michael. He said he was with you drinking til 3 am but left you ok. He hasn't gotten an answer from you, either. He is going to send someone from Tally Ho over to see if your car and bike are there. If they are and you don't answer the door, Michael wants them to call 911 and break in."
I stayed in contact with Michael until after 1:00 a.m. He tried calling Leif numerous times. He was in Atlanta for a trade show, had gone there that day. He was frantic, too. We both were waiting for someone from Tally Ho, the pub across the street, to go check, and someone there said they would, but they never did. At that point I went to bed, resolved that if I hadn't heard from Leif or found out what was happening, I would drive to his apartment and figure out some way to get in if both vehicles were there. I don't know what I would have done if only one were there. That would have meant he had gone somewhere with the other one.
I've asked myself a thousand times why I didn't go to his apartment that afternoon and the answer is always the same. I thought that either he was not there, or if he was, he was deliberately not communicating (which had happened before), in which case he would not like or welcome the melodrama of his mother driving 30 miles to check up on him, or if he couldn't communicate, it was likely too late. Neither Peter W. nor I wanted to really contemplate whether Leif could be dead at home. It made no sense. After 5 p.m. no one was in the apartment management offices. I tried to call that evening and couldn't reach anyone.
I did call hospitals that night. None of them had him listed as a patient. I called the sheriff's office thinking there might have been an accident report, or that he might have been arrested for something. I even called the sheriff's offices in the counties between here and where D., the one he had just fallen in love with, lived, in case something had happened to him on the way there or back.
I had thought he might go to visit her on his day off and even stay overnight. I know he had wanted to do that. Maybe he had been too tired to drive back, was asleep with his phones turned off. Maybe he thought he had gotten Wednesday off, too, and had his schedule mixed up and was spending time with her.
I was hoping that one of these things was true, but my mind was telling me that something was terribly wrong. I envisioned him off the road somewhere after a cycle accident, not found yet. I envisioned him very ill with some awful asthma attack. I even envisioned him in a drunken stupor, but I never imagined that he had shot himself in his apartment, not during that day. I began to fear his death by the time I went to bed but I tried to keep hoping I would hear from him and he was all right.
As it turns out, it wouldn't have made any difference if I had gone to Tampa and gotten into his apartment somehow, because he was already dead long before Rodney tried to contact him about missing his shift.
Sometime between 3 a.m. when Michael and Jaime left and 8 a.m. when he was due at work, he loaded the new Springfield XD pistol and shot himself in the head in the kitchen of his apartment. We were told he died instantly. I hope that is true.
The eerie photo above was one or a series Leif made of himself with a gun using the PhotoBooth program on his iMac. He experimented with the sepia and negative effects. This one is just how he made it except that I deleted the apartment background. Somehow it seems appropriate, ghostly, for remembering the day of his death. He actually made the photo on 11-22-07 at a time when he was depressed and felt his life had no purpose.