Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Family the Night of Peter Anthony's Air Force Academy Graduation Ball - Colorado Springs, CO - May 28, 1991

I think this was the last, and perhaps the only, time that our whole family was dressed formally for a big event. Peter Anthony was graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and we had flown to Colorado Springs from Puerto Rico to share in that momentous occasion. The night before the ceremony, we were all to attend the Graduation Balls. Peter Anthony was going to the Cadet Ball and we were going to one for parents and family.

Before the dances, we went out to dinner together at Guiseppi's Depot restaurant, which was in an old railroad station which had been converted into a posh restaurant. We had a great dinner and then took these, and many other, photos both inside the restaurant and outside in the dark. My mother was with us, too.

How young we all looked then, 18 years ago. Leif was tall, slim and handsome. Peter A. looked dashing in his blues and Peter W. looked great in his mess dress blues. It's hard to believe that we are the same people as the gray-haired grandparents that now stare out at us from the mirror, but it's even harder to believe that Leif is no longer with us. It still hurts to think that, and I know it always will. One-fourth of our family, one half of our children, never to be with us again.

No matter how many times I go over it all in my mind, I can't truly fathom it, how it came to that, how my son put a bullet in his head.

I am not alone in this. Just this past week we saw the news stories about the famous 32-year-old German soccer player who was depressed and jumped in front of a train to commit suicide. Why does despair grip them so tightly that they can't see a future?

How do we endure the pain they leave behind?

I re-read Peter Anthony's science fiction story about his brother's death and I cried again. There is no way to make his death comprehensible no matter how much I know about depression or the lethal combination of depression, alcohol and guns.

I am so thankful for Peter A. and for our beautiful grandchildren. They are our ties to the future. But I still think of the grandchildren I will never have and that brings tears to my eyes, and I will always think of my son, Leif, and miss him terribly.

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