This morning when I woke up Peter W. said he had been awake for a long time, thinking about Leif and his car, his beloved Mazda RX-8 and how it had been a kind of validation for him, something he had achieved, and that it had probably become a burden, a millstone of debt for the car payments and insurance.
How true that was! Leif struggled to pay his car payments, insurance and rent, credit bills, and still have money to eat or do anything else. Of course, those were poor choices he made, spending too much for too many cool things he couldn't afford, but by the time he died and was in over his head and didn't want to tell anyone, he must have felt as though he was working just to pay debts and nothing more.
So, I was thinking about that and walked out of the bedroom to the kitchen and the first thing that caught my eye was a set of mugs he and Nikko had given us for Christmas around 2000. For some reason, the combination made me very sad. I looked at the front door and it hit me hard that he wouldn't be coming for Christmas. Of course I have known that all along, but knowing it and having it hit me like that are not the same. No sending home his favorite cookies with him. No giving him presents. No hugs. No teasing from him. Never again. I started crying and went to my office.
I thought how I wished I could just cry my heart out on someone's shoulder and tell them how much I miss him, and then I thought about Peter Anthony's admonition not to "wallow in grief,' and his statement that he didn't want to "inflict" his grief on anyone else, and realized that I basically feel that, too, so I got control of myself as I always do and got to work.
Work has immense value. I got busy sending out Christmas letters, answering email, and later, working with Peter W. to translate our annual newletter into German and was so absorbed I was feeling entirely normal and reasonably happy. My feelings about Leif's absence were pushed to the background.
In the afternoon, I went to the Macintosh computer club meeting and was completely absorbed in the program and reading stuff on my laptop on the side. I walked out talking to a genealogist who belongs to the club and telling her about how genealogists could use Google Translate and then drove home.
Halfway there "Leif's" car drove right past me and I burst into tears. Silver Mazda RX-8s are not common, and even less so in our small community. It isn't often we see one here, and basically, the only one I ever did see right in town was his. It was as if things had come full circle from this morning, with Peter W. talking about that car (which was repossessed after he died) and now I was seeing it.
Of course I know it probably wasn't the same car, and even if it was, it was no longer Leif's, but it's those unexpected occurrences that surprise us and start the chain of emotions flowing.
I was five minutes from home and by the time I got there, I was fine again, ready to enjoy dinner with Peter W. and spend the rest of the evening finishing up sending out the newsletters . . . until I saw the photos of Leif with Peter A. on his first Christmas Eve.
That's how the days go, ups and downs, happy and sad, some happier than others. Work is the best distraction, having something constructive to do, being with other people and involved.
I hope I don't see that car tomorrow.
This is a photo Leif took of his car not so long before he died.