Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sense of Place in Memories, and Seeing the World Through New Eyes

Everything happens in a place, and location, place, is such an important part of memories. One's home, the place one lives, is a key to so many memories. That's why I spent so much blog time on the old stone house. It was such a large part of our lives for so long.

But every place one lives has significance and memories attached to it, and as a child in a military family, and then as an infantry soldier, Leif lived in so many places. For those of us who have that peripatetic lifestyle, we keep track of where and when things happened in our lives by attaching the memories to where we lived at the time.

I find myself often thinking that Leif lived here, in this house, where I now live. He slept in this room, ate at this table, washed his clothes in this washing machine, showered and got ready for work in this bathroom, parked his car in this garage, watched movies with us in this living room. It's so hard to come to grips with the fact that he will never do those things again, though the memories live on without him.

Today the sun was streaming in behind a curtain and then a cloud passed over the sun, the room suddenly darkened, and I thought that is how long term grief feels. You go about life, finding a sense of normalcy, even, at times, a bit of the old joy you once felt, and then a shadow passes over you and blocks out the light, blocks out the happiness, even if only briefly, though it isn't always fleeting. Sometimes is lasts and lasts, like the clouds that come to stay on a dark dreary day.

Tonight Peter Anthony's friend Dave was here for dinner with his family. We had a great visit, lively conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even remarking how Leif would have felt about some of the things we discussed, remembering how much he would have loved participating in that discussion. Then, because Madeleine and Dave's son Andrew came in with a butterfly she caught and put into her bug cage, and Andrew's interest in it, I recalled a time in Japan before Peter Anthony had children when he asked me why someone would want to have them. I had begun to answer him that one of the greatest joys of having children is the opportunity to see the world through new eyes, to relearn the marvels of the world that have become commonplace to us as adults.

Just telling that got me choked up and misty-eyed, Peter W. told me not to cry, and I didn't. I managed to keep it under control, but I couldn't help but remember how much that meant to me, seeing the worldl through the new eyes of my sons . . . and how I continued to do that all their lives, as they grew into men and kept showing and teaching me new things. Peter Anthony still does. I miss it so that Leif never will do that again.

The photo of Leif above was taken on New Years Day 2007 when he was visiting here and playing with Madeleine and Aly with the video camera of his cell phone. They had such fun.

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