Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why Some Days are Sad

It doesn't take much to bring on sadness on some days. I've been having spells of it for three days now. I wondered whether it was because my birthday is coming and Leif won't be here, or whether coming home and realizing full force that Leif wasn't with us for Mother's Day did it, or whether it's just being home again and not as distracted by travel and other things. Maybe that Memorial Day is coming soon. Maybe it's all of those, plus the associations that so many daily things bring.

For instance, this morning I chose to wear a t-shirt from our 2003 family reunion. It has the logo of the family tree brooch on it that Darlene designed, and she made the shirts, too. Thanks to her, Peter A. and Donovan, we had this beautiful brooch made for Mom in Thailand. I didn't think that putting on this shirt would make me sad, but it did. I reminded me that Leif was there then, with us, hopeful for his future, having just graduated from KSU. He enjoyed the reunion, and these photos of him are with the gifts he received from his brother, Peter A., for his graduation. It made me think of the 2008 reunion, which took place only two-and-a-half months after his death, and how hard it was to have the whole family there except for him, and now, to know there will never be a family reunion with him present, nor will I ever have a family reunion like my mother has had with all her children present.

That made me think how she has a way of telling people what a worrier I am and about my "Worrier's Anonymous" t-shirt (my own design. She doesn't call it that, just describes how I worry about everything. I haven't worn that t-shirt since the day we found Leif dead in his apartment. I wore it there that day, partly because I WAS worried . . . and with good reason . . . and partly as a joke so that if we did find him alive, I could tease him about how my worrying was justified. I just can't bring myself to wear it any more. Too many sad memories of that day. And I can't bring myself to tell my mother, either. I'm not normally a compulsive worrier, though I am a planner and "speculator," but at the time I designed that shirt and put it on, I WAS terribly worried about Leif, and it seems like a harmless and amusing outlet for my worries. I had fun wearing it. The "Worrier's Manifesto" was designed and written to be way over-the-top, but I guess Mom took it seriously, even though I had good reason to worry in her case, too, when I told her I worried about her getting in and out of the bathroom on a cruise ship. I was worried she would fall . . . and she did, and broke her back. So, maybe my worries are justified in too many cases.

So, thinking about these things, with my reunion 2003 t-shirt on, I went into the living room where Peter W. was watching a movied called "New York City Serenade." I only saw snatches of it, but the last scene made me so sad. Two friends were meeting after a long time and one had a little girl and the other apparently had done well in business but was alone and depresed. He left alone in a cab and the father walked hand-in-hand with his little girl talking about the future until he lifted her onto his shoulder. I could just see Leif in that, both sides . . . the man who left, lonely and sad, and the father Leif wanted to be, with the little girl whose mother he wanted to marry. Would he have lived if he'd had something to live FOR?

That brought me back to thinking about the deep sadness I felt Thursday night, when I was again crying, "Why? Why then? What tipped the balance? Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you leave a clue?"

Yes, he left that philosophy essay of his and the photo on this laptop, but that's not enough. It doesn't spell it out.

Then I thought, even if he HAD left a note or explanation, it would just raise more questions . . . . more whys. There's really no way for someone to comprehend it who didn't experience what he did.

But today a revelation of sorts came to me, because of that scene in the movie and connecting it with the email from Leif in November 2007 when he said that life held far more pain and agony for him that pleasure and that he basically had nothing to live FOR, no PURPOSE. That IS the answer. Nothing to live for. How ultimately sad.

Peter W. was affected by the movie, too, in the same way I was, and we were also hit by the West Point graduation, which should be a time of rejoicing and triumph, and yet we both wondered how many of those young men and women will die or be maimed in the wars we are fighting . . . and for what? For how many years? Why are we doing this to these wonderful young people? Is it worth it? Not to me.

Peter W. and I drove out into the country past Wimauma to pick blueberries and on the way he said he was sad today. We discovered we were both experiencing the same sadness. He said he missed my blog about Leif, missed looking forward to reading memories of Leif and seeing pictures, and to knowing what I was thinking. I miss that, too, but it's not something I can write every day, and where are the photos going to come from? I can't make more of them. Leif is not here for that. Every photo I have now is precious. It's both wonderful and terriby, terribly sad to see his handsome face looking earnestly out at me, life-size, from my computer screen. How I wish I would reach in there and hug him! I miss him so!

Picking blueberries in the sunlight was good for us. Seeing the green of the countryside was good for us. The best antidote to sadness and depression is work, action, distraction, yet so often those are the things we don't feel at all like doing. We make ourselves do them. We have to. Tears and sadness can't be the only thing in life. We can't let them take over.

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