Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All Those Things Done and Never Done

I was thinking today that Leif did more in his 33 years than many people ever get to experience in a full lifetime. He lived in four countries, a US Commonwealth (Puerto Rico) and six states. He traveled in many more countries and states, served his country in the army, played musical instruments, starred in a musical, flew in airplanes, built his own computer, owned cars, a truck and motorcycles, was in love probably four times, was married and divorced. He worked at at least nine different jobs. He visited castles and cathedrals, watched performances ranging from Japanese Yabusame (archery) to hula dancing. He swam at beaches from Thailand and Japan to Jamaica and Italy. He went on two Caribbean cruises and attended three family reunions. He was an uncle. He had a college degree. He was a member of the SCA and fought in medieval armor. He was a SCUBA diver, had a black belt in judo.

There are so many more things, so many details of his life I could enumerate, so much he experienced. But in the end, did he feel his world was shrinking? So much of what he had experienced was either as a child with us, or and adult with us, or as an adult in the army. Then he circumscribed his life with debt and could no longer continue that kind of life.

But worse, so much of what he really wanted was out of reach. He never experienced years of a happy home life in a stable and loving marriage. He never had children. He never had a job or career that gave him satisfaction or a feeling of real achievement. The things that really matter to a man, he did not have.

We were able to give him a lot, but those things were out of our reach to give him, too. It's so sad to me that he never was able to find them, and sad that I will never hold a child of his in my arms.

Most of the photos I have of Leif are either happy, silly, contemplative, or sometimes, just absorbed in what he was doing or thoughtful. This photo is different. I wonder what he was thinking. There's a kind of sad and melancholy look about it, but maybe that's just my way of seeing it now, after his death. It was taken when we went to the "Big Island" of Hawaii for Christmas in 1985. He was almost eleven years old.

That was my idea because I was tired of hot weather for Christmas and wanted to feel a chill in the air. I wanted to see my breath. It was chilly enough for that at Kilauea Military Camp on the rim of the volcano. We had to wear jackets and we even had a fire in the fireplace in our lava rock cabin.

Peter Anthony's birthday is Christmas Day and he was turning 17. It didn't occur to us that no place would be open to get a good Christmas dinner in Hilo, which was closer than the tourist area at Kona. We drove around and around and finally found that although even Pizza Hut was closed, the International House of Pancakes was open, so we ended up there for our Christmas and Peter Anthony's birthday dinner. Not what we expected, but it makes a good story. Leif found that quite amusing, yet another of the many experiences in his life. Did he think they were over?

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