As a part of this correspondence, Leif wrote to this woman, who had hadn't yet met, about what love, marriage and friendship meant to him. It is poignant, revealing, and, given what ultimately happened in the last three years of his life, infinitely sad. Here it is in his own words. This was written, as was most of his most revealing communication, in the wee hours of the morning, and sent at 4:35 a.m. on Sunday, July 10, 2005. He wanted something meaningful and committed, but he never found it. I think what he writes about his feelings in this email, those he felt at the end of his army career when he was alone, must have been again true in the last days of his life.
I want a marriage that means something, a real partnership and a loving commitment to each other. I am tired of fair weather friends that are only there for you as long as it is to their advantage but leave you as soon as it is not. I wonder does anyone ever take that vow "for better or for worse" seriously anymore? I have a big thing about promises. If I am not prepared to keep a promise I won't make it, even if I think I want to fulfill it, if I am not sureI actually can, I will not make a promise. I will not commit to something I am not sure I can hold true to. I wish others were the same. I made a promise when I got married and I took it seriously and took a lot of abuse due to that promise, but my wife did not take it seriously and bailed when things got "Worse." Considering that I had always been the knight in shining armor rescuing her, the idea that she could no longer need me and leave me when she was the weak one hurt a lot.
You want to know something about me that few people know? Well, here is a little known fact. I am generally considered to be the "Rock," the unshakable, confident, stable man that was immune to stress and that nothing bothered me. Many people really believed that. What few know is that at the end of my time with my ex wife and as my army career was in decline, I was so miserable and unhappy and hurt that I was genuinely suicidal. Every day was nothing but another 24 hours of suffering and humiliation and I just wanted it to stop. I was sick, hurt, lonely and emotionally destitute. My wife had left me and I was stuck in a miserable place I hated with no friends and a job that punished me, which I could not quit. There was no way out and I seriously was at the point that I had planned out exactly how I was going to kill myself and how to ensure that it would work, and that I couldn't survive and be one of those horrible cases of disfigured attemtped suicides.
Ultimately, I obvioulsly did not go through with it. I wanted a release from the misery but I simply couldn't do it because while I had no concern for myself I knew how badly it would hurt the people who would survive me, namely my parents and the friend who had left his shotgun I was going to use at my house. My own compassion for them drove me to endure each day that followed until I escaped the situation. I recovered and I am now much happier. I am so glad I was not foolish enough to succumb to my weaknesses. I am loving life today and everything has turned around.
I don't want to bring you down or bum you out but I wanted to give you some insight into me and how important loyalty and reliability are to me. Save for my parents, I have never had anyone that I could count on to be there for the rest of my life. I have never known any friend that loved me and cared for me and would be there for me through thick and thin, wanting nothing in return but my friendship. I want that.
They say most men fear commitment. I have never known commitment. I have dreamed of it and desired it but never experienced it. The ideal of forever is alien to me. Perhaps most men can't see this far and don't see the value in such things but I see the old men that come into my store alone and I pity them and wonder If I will be one of them. I wonder who will love me when I am old and gray and wrinkled? Will I die alone? If not, who wil be there when I die? Will anyone mourn my passing? Will it matter that I lived?
I head an interesting discussion of the idea of marriage and its merits. One person said that it is not really necessary but what it really means is that we are agreeing to be witnesses to each others lives. In the vastness of all humanity what, meaning does one life make? What is one person in 6 billion? Who cares? Marriage is about two people promising to care about each others lives and to witness them.
Wow, I am getting side tracked, but I hope that gives you some insight into what I value and why.
Oh, Leif, yes, it mattered that you lived! It mattered to me, and always will.
And it mattered to many others. How could you not know?
The photo is one Leif took of himself, oddly enough in his bathroom, with his Treo phone, to send to a woman on Match.com who requested a photo. It was taken on March 30, 2005, about three weeks after he moved to Florida.