I don't understand families that treat their family members badly and hurt each other. I don't understand families that don't keep strong ties. There are so many that seem to feel it's just an onerous duty to spend time together.
And then there are families like mine that love to be together and gladly travel great distances to do it, families like mine that find it an important part of their identities, that want to be in contact. The mothers in my family are always bonded to their children, as I am bonded to mine. We are forever linked not just by a family name and "blood," but by love and shared memories.
It's those memories that come back, the happy and the sad, to keep those links alive, even past death. I remember Leif every day, but there are so many different things that trigger memories. Tonight it was a show on television. Peter started watching a science fiction show that took place in space and featured a fighter pilot, just the kind of show Leif would have chosen, would have loved, and would have commented upon. The moment I saw the space ships I thought of him and how he would have liked it. I will likely never look at a sci fi show or movie again without associating it with him, or see NASA photo of outer space without remembering the NASA images he had on his computer, or see the stars and moon in the night sky without thinking of him.
While we were in Egypt we saw some "falling stars," and I've seen one more since we got home. Those I associated with both my sons, Leif, because they were in the heavens at night, Peter A. because of his interest in planetary defense against asteroids.
I am forever linked to my sons, or, at least for my lifetime.
This "stairstep" photo of me with my sons was taken in Hawaii in the summer of 1980, when we were stopping there for a few days of vacation on the long move from Germany to Japan. Leif was five years old.