Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Step Forward

Yesterday evening we had our first real social event here since Leif died. The day of his memorial service, our neighbors organized a wonderful potluck supper for us, and we held the family reunion in July 2008, a event planned long before Leif's death. We enjoyed it, but it was colored with sadness at his absence.

Since then, we have gone to parties and attended social events, sometimes when we didn't feel like going but knew we should, but hadn't felt like hosting any ourselves.

While I will always miss Leif and have a deep underlying sadness about his death, I think that crossing the two year mark has finally brought me out of the depth of grief and into a time when I can enjoy life with less of that burden. I had thought for some time about having the neighbors over for dessert and finally felt like I really WANTED to do it, looked forward to it. It was fun making the invitations and making pies (pecan and lemon meringue, which Leif would have liked). Peter made a Black Forest Cherry Cake. It was even more or less fun to clean and straighten up the house for the party.

We had a good time with our wonderful neighbors and I felt good about all of it. Leif would have enjoyed it. He always liked our social gatherings. I was glad I could think that without feeling sad that he wasn't there.

Cultures have (or did) "prescribed" periods of grief, which used to be more or less enforced. In one way, those traditions were good, in that they gave a bereaved person a period when it was not only all right but expected to be in mourning, though in another way they were straight jackets that prevented people who were ready from moving forward with their lives. In our culture, that period used to be a year. That's enough for some people, not enough for others. I don't think one ever really completely gets over the loss of a child (or another loved one), but I think things are better after two years than one. One year is too short. Grief is too fresh, the loss too close.

At two years, I can see we've come a long way and realize that we have still further to go . . . and that we will continue on this path.

Today I can be glad for good friends and neighbors, and for coming far enough to want to enjoy the evening with them.

This photo of my two beloved sons, Peter A. and Leif, was taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in December 1981. Peter A. would have his thirteenth birthday just days later, and Leif would be seven a month later. He has on his "tough guy" look.

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