Saturday, July 25, 2009
Nostalgia, Remembrance, Gratitude, Wishing
Finding Leif's photo albums, the two he actually put together (as opposed to a bunch of loose photos from his army days, mostly of people we don't know) not only brings back a lot of memories but shows me new things about Leif and what he chose to photograph. Even as a young teen he was photographing himself, though not as much as he did in the last few years of his life. I don't know for sure whether he placed his camera on something and used the timer on these two or whether he had someone there with him who took them, but I'm pretty sure neither Peter W. nor I took them, or even saw them before.
These were taken the the back yard of our house (army quarters) in Puerto Rico, and I probably should have known about them and scanned them to post when I was writing about that house and yard. Now they'll have to stand on their own.
These were taken around February 1991, or at least that's when the roll of film was developed, so Leif was sixteen years old in these photos. In the one where he is far from the camera, it looks like he is swinging the machete he used to help keep the jungle under control around there. In the one where he is posing leaning back against a palm tree, you can see the same outfit closer up. He dressed in fashion and in fashion fads in those days, with his purple shirt and deliberately ragged jeans, the kind with narrow ankles.
Tonight Peter W. and I were having dinner in Brandon and he said he felt very nostalgic for all the times we have shared, and that he wondered whether we would ever have dinner in Brandon without remembering the times we did so with Leif. I said I didn't think so, and that I think of him in every room of our house. Even the car we were driving was hand-picked for us by Leif. We talked about the years and times in so many places and how fortunate we were to have each other and our sons. He said that when we are young, we don't really appreciate what we have because we are so busy trying to get ahead, make a secure future for our family and ourselves, and that he wishes we could go back and do it over.
I suppose in a sense we don't really appreciate everyday life because it is everyday. We don't know how special it is until it's gone. I can share the nostalgia with him, and and looking at photos of Leif or photos he took, and thinking about all this every day for the blog certainly brings home to me how much we had and what a great loss we have suffered. Yet we are still fortunate to have had so many good years, to have had two brilliant and handsome sons, to have each other, to have seen so much of the world.
In another sense, though, I did know how good I had it, how special our lives were. That's why I took so many pictures, trying to save all those memories, trying to preserve something of those feelings, and I am so immensely grateful not only for the experiences and the family, but for the photos and the memories.
It is both joyous and sad to remember it all, joyous because it was so good, sad because Leif is gone. Tonight Peter said it still doesn't seem real or possible that he's dead. We know it is true, but it seems as though it just can't be so.
I wish, oh how I wish, he were still here!