Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remembering a Year Ago

Last year at this time, I was frantically trying to scan all the photos for a slide show of Leif's life to be shown in the evening after his memorial services. Those photos and many more are finding their way into this blog.

I was racing to have all the details ready for the two memorial services, the house in order for family and friends. Peter Anthony, Darlene and Marcus were already here. I was dealing with Leif's financial mess, still notifying people and companies about his death, trying to sell his belongings and clean out his apartment. It was a whirlwind of activity overlaid on alternating waves of sadness and numbness.

I was glad I had found the two places I wanted for the memorial services, Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg for the military service and inurnment, and the St. Petersburg Unitarian Universalist Church for the celebration of life ceremony. I wanted both of them to be right, to be real remembrances of Leif and his life.

I didn't want some sterile religious ceremony that relied on scriptures that would have been meaningless to him. I knew it would be almost unbearably hard to do, but I asked family members and friends if they wanted to be a part of the services, and they responded. I wrote a short piece including "Sea Fever," the Masefield poem Leif loved, for the military service, and "Farewell to My Gentle Giant" for the church service. I posted those last year. Peter W. wrote something short for each of them, including poems he found meaningful. Neither of us was sure we could control our emotions enough to get through them, but we resolved to try.

Peter Anthony wrote an insightful and poignant talk for the church service, "Who Was My Brother?" Leif's friend Jason agreed to read what he had written on Leif's MySpace page when he found out about his death. Darlene offered to read the Twenty Third Psalm, and Marcus prepared a reading and candle-lighting, with the candle he and Darlene made.

All the activity and planning gave me focus, something that had to be done, and that kept me from collapsing into depression. Work is great therapy, even if the effects aren't lasting.

It seems incomprehensible to me that it has already been a year since his death. It still feels as though he should be walking through my door. And yet, the forwarding order for his mail is about to run out and little comes. Email no longer comes to his email accounts. Fewer and fewer people visit his Facebook and MySpace pages.

There is a fairly consistent number coming to this blog every day. I don't know if they are all readers or whether many are chance hits on keywords, but I am glad people are finding it. So far, though, no one has sent me any memories to include. I'm on my own here. Melissa said she wants me to continue writing it. I want to, but how long can I find something new and different to say? How many more photos can I find that aren't essentially part of a series that are similar? I want to keep it meaningful. Leif deserves that.

I didn't expect that the anniversary of the memorial services would also be as meaningful and sad to me as the day Leif died and the day we found him. I suppose I should have known that the day we gathered to commemorate his death would be that significant for me. The first anniversary of it is in days, and that will be another milestone passed, another sign of how long he has been gone from us.

Every photo I post is a reminder of the life that meant so much to me. Every photo makes me want him back. Every photo makes me thankful I had him.

Why couldn't life have been kind to him?

The photo above was taken in front of our quarters at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area in Japan, as he was coming home from school. He had his gym bag of stuff and instead of carrying it the usual way, he hung it on his head like that. It was taken in May 1983 when he was 8 years old.Sea

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