What will I remember about my Leif? Everything.
I will remember the beautiful child that none of us realized was as vulnerable as he was. I will remember the tall, strong boy and his wonderful smile. I will remember how frustrated he could get when he wasn't able to make his hands do what his mind envisioned.
I will remember the brilliant mind and incredible memory my son had, and how we recognized it when he was so young.
I will remember the soccer player who could boot the ball three-fourths of the way down the field.
I will remember the teen who was tall and slim, a black belt in judo, a guitar player, a singer. I will remember his as Kenicke in "Grease," with all the girls screaming for him. I will remember him graduating from high school.
I will remember the handsome young man who married when he was only twenty years old and the devastated man who nearly took his life when his marriage failed.
I will remember the proud, tall soldier who graduated from infantry basic training and who was proud of his ability with a machine gun, and the broken soldier who was medically retired from the army when he was only twenty-six years old.
I will remember the recovering man who graduated from college and was proud of his new car.
I remember how happy he was when he fell in love again, and how utterly devastated he was when she left him, how I was worried he would not survive.
I remember him on his motorcycles, the three different ones he owned in his lifetime, the ones he drove far too fast, and I remember him in the hospital after the accident he had.
I remember how he loved cars and his RX-7s and RX-8, especially the RX-8, how he drove like a race car driver, what he really always wanted to be.
I remember him helping us with the house and yard, helping us move. I remember him helping my mother with her computer.
I remember him playing chess with Madeleine and being silly with Aly.
I remember him being in debt and spending money foolishly.
I remember him being in dark moods and fearing for him.
I remember his guns, his music collection, his passion for technology and science fiction.
I remember his hugs, his smiles.
I remember how desperately he needed and searched for love.
I remember how Leif wanted to be the hero, that he was the gentle giant who would fight to defend his family, his friends, his country. I remember his personal code was to never show weakness, and how he kept his deep and towering emotions inside. I remember how he wanted to be needed, to be respected and loved.
I remember bringing him into the world full of hope for him. It is hard to accept that our dreams for Leif will never be realized, that he will never find his purpose and defeat his demons, that he will never have a family, that he will never be there for a birthday or a Christmas, never be there to teach us about the latest technology and set things up for us, never again tease me about driving like an old lady.
it will always be hard to know and remember that our love was not enough to save him, that no matter what I tried, I could not help him be happy, or take away his pain.
I remember that in many ways, he lived a life rich in experience, and we tried hard to provide some of those riches of experience, but I also remember that his life was drowned in depression and loneliness.In the end, he was overwhelmed.
I remember how he wanted to be a hero, wanted to be needed, wanted to be strong. I rememberhow, through so many disappointments and crises, he held his head high and did not let others see his pain and frustration. Finally, it was too much. I will remember how he bore that burden until the end.
Most of all, I remember how much I loved him. I love him still. I will always love him.
This photo was taken of Leif on Bellows Beach on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, one of his favorite places. It was in August 1989 when he was fourteen-and-a-half. It was then he was reading Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" with such deep and avid interest.