Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eighteen Months

Yesterday it was been eighteen months since we discovered Leif's body. It's hard to comprehend, still, that we will never see him again. He still is a looming presence in our lives, both his life and his death. I'm sure he always will be.

Each passing month since April 10, 2008, I've marked the day on the blog, on his MySpace page, and on his Facebook page. Each month I've shed new tears. I am trying to look at this year-and-a-half as a time to get focused on all the other areas of my life, to move on, if just a little, from the grief and sadness. It's getting easier.

On Thursday evening we enjoyed the German-American Club's Oktoberfest dinner-dance and sat with a table of people we had never met before, congenial people who helped make our evening fun, though the best part was just being together, Peter W. and I, dancing, and smiling at each other.

Yet even there I was reminded once again how widespread the problem of suicide is, how many of us are suicide survivors, having experienced the suicide of a family member or friend. One of the men at the table lost his seventeen-year-old daughter to suicide years ago. His wife, who told me she had to break the news to him, said no matter how many years go by, you never really get over it. She echoed the same sentiments as my friend who said she will eternally ask why, always wonder whether she could have done something differently that would have mattered, but none of us will never know.

In thinking about this eighteen month marker, I wanted to use a photo of Leif that shows more of what his mood must have been like when he decided to end his life. This photo was one I found on his computer, taken with the computer's internal camera, on November 22, 2007, which was Thanksgiving. He was with us for Thanksgiving dinner, and seemed to enjoy being together, though Thanksgiving as a holiday never meant much to him. I don't know why he took this photo (and others he took at the same time), or whether he took it before or after coming to our house for dinner, but he looks so serious and solemn. Was that just a pose or was that how he really felt? It seems to look like the discouraged email he wrote to me a few days earlier, and other photos he took that month. He took a lot of photos of himself that month when he was so down, both with his computer and his phone. Why?

We have missed Leif now for a year-and-a-half. He lived less than half of a normal lifespan, but he had an enormous impact on our lives. We will always, always love him.

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