This photo makes me smile, my two beautiful sons looking happy together on our old gold velvet couch. That couch served us many a year, from 1973 (gosh, it was nearly "new" in this photo) until around 2004, I think. It was retired to the Salvation Army.
This photo was probably taken near Thanksgiving in November 1975. Leif was 10 months old and Peter Anthony would have a birthday a month later and celebrate being 7 years old. Peter W. had been in Germany that fall on Reforger maneuvers with the Army, and I was taking graduate school classes at Kansas State University.
I am grateful for every photo, and the memories that go with them.
Yesterday I sang with the German American Chorus in a Christmas concert and remembered that two years ago, Leif was there to see the concert, enjoyed the party with us afterward, and got a particular laugh out of John H. singing a funny version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee," that goes something like this;
My Country tis of thee
i come from Germany
My name is Fritz.
Give me some sauerkraut.
Don't leave the bratwurst out,
Give me a stein of beer
And i'll stay here.
Maybe I'll remember the missing lines later.
Last year I had a very hard time singing some of the Christmas songs and got choked up, espcially on "I'll Be Home For Christmas," realizing that Leif would never again be home for Christmas. This year I had a couple of moments when I almost got choked up and felt a brief sting of tears, but it was so much better than last year. I am grateful for that, too.
Several years ago a friend of ours lost her little daughter, not even two years old, when a babysitter threw her and injured her. He was convicted after a long and heartbreaking trial. Little Jordan's birthday was the 11th, and her family still remembers and misses her so. I reflected on how we both lost children and were devastated by that loss, but I had Leif for 33 years, at least. They lost all of their daughter's future and all but a tiny part of her childhood. I have the photos and the memories and they can only think what might have been. Losing a child is terrible at any time, but I can be grateful for Leif's whole childhood and fifteen years of adulthood, all that time I got to experience with him, love him, and learn from him.
Today, the Compassionate Friends organization, for parents who have lost children the world over, has a ceremonial candle lighting at 7:00 p.m. local time to remember their beloved children. I hope you will, too. I will remember Leif, as I do every day.