We all have our scars, those injuries life has dealt out to us that heal over but leave their image and imprint on us forever. Sometimes they are things we would fervently wish that we had never experienced. Sometimes the experiences were worth the pain. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes we grow. But sometimes, they are just wounds that heal over but leave us irreparably harmed. The scars of our lives, whether visible or invisible all have stories, and all those stories are worth telling. How different they are than tatoos, which also may have stories, sometimes even ones from invisible scars, but which usually are meant as decorations on the body, not evidence of wounds. So, although I think Leif would have heartily approved of this t-shirt saying, I think that scars and tatoos are quite different.
Leif was fond of saying he had no regrets though in the end I don't know whether that was completely true. He also believed that it's the things we don't do we regret, not those we do. Both are popular viewpoints, but I am not so blithe in either assertion.
There are so many things that remind me of Leif, of his life, of the things he said, the things he loved, the places he lived and visited. I just returned from a Caribbean cruise that visited San Juan and St. Thomas. We lived at Fort Buchanan in San Juan for two years, during Leif's sophomore and junior years of high school, where he attended Antilles High School. I've written about him during those years on this blog. They were good years for Leif, years when he blossomed in many ways. I hadn't been back to Puerto Rico since we left in 1992, and each place I walked in Old San Juan was a place I'd walked with Leif many times. I remembered him there, remembered the times we took him with us out to dinner, the visits to El Morro fortress, the trip to the Bacardi Rum Factory, the trip to El Yunque Rain Forest, swimming at Luquillo Beach, sailing to Vieques, and so much more. How I wish I'd been able to take him back there again.
We visited St. Thomas, too, and I remember climbing the hill to have lunch at Blackbeard's Castle, the place I saw this t-shirt. The restaurant is now gone, replaced by a gift shop and a bar, but the view is still spectacular, now "graced" with statues of famous pirates. Leif would have gotten a kick out of the story of Blackbeard, a man Leif's size who was a giant in his time, when the average man was 5' 2". He wore 6 pistols across his chest and would put cannon fuses in his hair and light them, then jump on to a ship with his hair on fire, yelling at the top of his lungs, and scare the daylights out of the crew of his victim vessel. They say he had little need of his guns to intimidate them. Leif would have loved hearing that.
I think that Puerto Rico and the Caribbean was the closest place to a home where Leif really felt AT home, where, after an initial series of difficulties, he made good friends, had an active social life, fell in love the first time, and loved the climate and culture. I am grateful he had those years.