Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Fast Life Changes

How fast life changes! I have often remarked to friends that life can change in one instant, and you will never know it's coming, like Leif's death. And now we have another change that took place on his birthday.

Yesterday would have been Leif's 36th birthday if he had lived, and a couple of weeks ago I made up my mind that we should celebrate his birthday instead of either moping around or not celebrating it. We had plans for the day. But then my cousin from Wisconsin called. She was in Florida and wanted to get together. Yesterday was the best day to do it, and she was flying out the next day, and wanted to meet in Sarasota. Peter W. had talked about going to Sarasota, so though it was a switch in plans, it seemed right to meet two of my cousins and one's husband in Sarasota for lunch and some strolling around.

Driving down to Sarasota, Peter W. talked about Leif and how hard it was to know that he was so unhappy, so miserable, that he would take his life. It was a sad trip down, serious, thoughtful.

Then we had a really delightful lunch with Judy, John and Sandie, a cousin I hadn't met before. We ate outside in the sunshine at Marina Jack by all the pretty yachts and Sarasota Bay. Afterward we walked around Bayfront Park by the dolphin fountain, and then drove across the causeway to Lido Key and St. Armand's Circle, took a little walk on the beach and around the shops. I was remember the last time Leif was there with us, with Peter A. and his kids, and having coconut ice cream.

It was a good way to spend his birthday, and I had planned to come home, light a candle, and have a beer in his honor (his favorite drink), a Newcastle, a beer he introduced us to, but life had other less pleasant things in store for us.

On the way back from Sarasota, my cell phone rang and it was a Lifeline dispatcher telling me that my mother had falled and was taken to the hospital. We went directly there. Mom fell and broke her right hip, just a year and eleven months after breaking her back for the second time.

Mom is 92 and in good health except for severe osteoporosis and macular degeneration. As she put it, she's like a "china doll," and breaks easily.

I spent the entire evening at the ER with her and then in her room, after which I went to her house to take care of some things and get some other things for her and took them back to her hospital room. I didn't get home until nearly 2:00 a.m. Mom will have to have surgery, but we don't know when or what the prognosis will be, but she's a fighter and if anyone can make it back from a broken hip, she can.

After I got home, I realized again that the living have to take precedence over the dead, but that I could still have the beer, even though it was past 2:00 a.m.

So here I am, Newcastle in hand, toasting Leif's birthday a day late. I am glad he was my son, glad I had him in my life, glad he HAD a birthday, sad he isn't here to celebrate it.

Life has changed yet again, suddenly, without warning.

The photo was taken on Leif's birthday in 2007. Little did we know he would have only one more. He hadn't lost hope yet, still had that winning smile. It was a fun birthday, unlike his sad, preoccupied last one. He is crumping up the paper that had wrapped up a 2-drawer filing cabinet we gave him to organize his papers. Of course, he never did.

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