Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Endless Questions

Yesterday I was talking to my friend who lost her son to suicide with a gun four-and-a-half years ago. She told me, tears sliding from her eyes, that she still can't bring herself to look at all the family videos, the photo albums, and boxes of mementos. She still doesn't feel like decorating for the holidays or celebrating them. She met a long-time friend who asked her whether she had stopped asking "why" and she said the would never stop until her eyes "closed for the last time." She said that it took her three years, but she got to the angry stage where she asked why her son thought it was all right to do this terrible thing to his family, to leave her anguished for the rest of her life . . . and then felt bad about her anger, because for him to take his life, he must have been so unhappy.

I told her that I had thought a lot about that question of why, and I, too, will be asking it forever, but unlike her, I don't think that finding out the answer will bring any closure or make me feel any better, because no matter what the answer would be, it would just raise MORE questions, the whys behind that answer, and many others. I don't think we can ever really come to grips with the why of our sons' deaths, because I don't think there is any reason that will be truly comprehensible to us. The only thing that would be, would be to walk in their shoes and experience what they did, to feel what they felt, and I don't want to do that, even if I could. I don't want to experience a life that would make me want to end mine.

Four-and-a-half years, and we will be coming up on eighteen months in just a couple of days. Those months seem at once endless and so short, to have flown by. How can Leif have been gone from us that long already? It still seems as if he could come driving down the street any day.

I am sad for my friend that she can't look at all those videos and pictures and remember all the good times they had with their son, that it's so painful she would rather hide them away. It's the opposite for me. I want to see every one of them. I want to search them for signs of what his life was really like, what it meant, whether he had real moments of happiness, whether there were indications of his misery. I want to see his face, look at his eyes, remember that he LIVED, and how important he was and is to us. Yes, seeing them makes me cry sometimes, but I would rather see them and cry than avoid them. It's the only contact I have other than my memories, and I crave it. I have come to understand, though, why some people want to avoid all mention of or reminders of their deceased loved ones, because they can't bear the pain. For some people, it's easier to keep things out of sight. There is no pretending they will also be out of mind.

She has no outlet for her grief and her memories like I do with this blog. I am trying to preserve Leif's memory for the world, not that the world cares, but some people in it care, and care deeply. But even if others were not here reading what I write, looking at the photos of Leif and the things he loved, I would still want to do it.

Today I was driving down the street to our house and thinking as I often do that Leif drove there. When he lived here, he drove it at least twice a day. Later after he moved to Tampa, he would drive down for dinner or to come help us out with something, or to see his brother's family when they were visiting. All those places associated with him in some way. All those things we used to be able to ask him about, get his advice, like car repair. I had to have my mother's car fixed today and they were recommending a service I knew nothing about, didn't know whether it was a good idea or not. I would have asked Leif about it, and he would have given me good advice, just as he would about anything electronic or mechanical, and I miss having him there to ask.

Peter W. was going through a box of photos and papers and found the "coupon" I scanned above. Unfortunately, I don't remember when Leif made it or gave it to me, and no date was written on it. I think it must have been when we were in Japan, because he wrote his name in cursive and was still going by the name "Leif" instead of the nickname "Alex" he switched to when we moved to Hawaii in 1983. He probably was in second grade, although I don't remember them teaching cursive that soon, and I'll bet it was for Mother's Day.

You can see that Leif was not particularly careful about coloring it. Coloring pages was never one of his chosen activities. Drawing, yes, but just the drawing part, not coloring it in. He was more interested in line and function than color.

The coupon says,
"To Mom from Leif
This Free Coupon Good For One of Your Choice: (Circle One)
Breakfast in Bed
Be An Angel for a Day"
There's nothing circled, and that makes me wonder if I ever even got this coupon, because surely I would have used it.

It strikes me that these choices are hardly equal and certainly moving upward in difficulty for a child to fulfill. What would I have chose, from an earnest little boy? I'd give anything for a hug now.

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