Another women who lost a son to suicide was talking to me a few days before Father's Day and she said, "Why is it that these days like Mother's Day or Easter are so much harder? They're just another day."
The trouble is, they aren't just another day. They are days with significance, a significance we have been taught all our lives. They matter because humans measure time, and they designate certain days as having some kind of importance.
She said they only get "two months off," meaning that every other month has either a holiday or a family date like a birthday in it, so they are always anticipating those occasions when their son won't be with them.
I know how that feels now. We are into our third set of birthdays, Mother's Day and Father's Day without Leif, and soon it will be the Fourth of July (one holiday he really liked), then in the fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each one of them is another day we will realize he won't be coming, something we had an expectation of over the years, because except for such rare instances, he always WAS there. He was an integral part of our joy and celebration of those holidays, and now having to experience them without him seems saddened and partly empty. We have other family members but they haven't been with us for these times over the years, so their absence is not so keenly felt. The expectation isn't there.
I find that my subconscious starts anticipating the holiday without Leif and I become sad. It happens to Peter W., too. We both feel that Mother's Day and Father's Day are diminished, that we have only half our children (for we had only two sons) still there. Does that mean we are half the parents we once were? It's hard to be happy on those days.
It's impossible not to think about Leif's death on those days set aside specifically for mothers and fathers, for that's what we were to him, and those were days he shared with us.
I found myself fighting tears.
I made a card for Peter W. and had a hard time deciding what photo to put on it. It doesn't seem right to put a photo of our family without Leif, though he is no longer here, and that's what I did on the card last year. I chose a photo of our boys in Germany when they were small, beautiful little boys! Those days are gone now, are just fond memories now made all the sweeter because we know they not only will never come again but Leif will never be with us. I had tears in my eyes when I made the card, but I didn't expect Peter to have them in his eyes when he looked at it. He was affected, too, saddened again at the loss, asking why Leif shot himself, how he could do it.
And we will never know.
The thoughts and the feelings go beyond that. I rarely turn on the car radio but I did a day or so ago and there was some sweet and slightly melancholy love song playing, and the words just made me sad, both because, as I've written before, love songs can be interpreted as other than romantic love, and because I was sad that Leif never had the romantic love he so desperately sought and hoped for.
Coming home from a wedding on Friday, we crossed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and I think we will never cross it without thinking and talking of Leif. And at the wedding, which was beautiful, I thought why couldn't Leif have found a love like this?
The memories are everywhere. The feelings are still so strong and deep. The sadness comes back in waves. It has burrowed into my heart.
This photo of Leif, Peter W. and Peter A. was taken in April 1987 in the area of Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Leif was 12 years old, and acting goofy because he didn't really want to be posing for a photo. There were others taken at the same time that were better than this one, but these are my three guys, the ones that mean the world to me.