I often see photos of Leif's other namesake, who bears Leif's first name as his middle name, the son of Leif's friends Jason and Melissa. He is now two-and-a-half.
I wonder what Leif would think of these two beautiful children, how he would feel knowing his friends care so much about him. I wish he could see them grow and change, experience life anew, and hopefully happier, through their eyes.
I find myself wondering how Leif really felt throughout his childhood. He was so strong, so big for his age, from birth, and so self-contained, so curious about the world, so seemingly fearless, that we missed his vulnerability, and I don't think we knew of all the times he was hurt or unhappy.
There were a few times we did, when his frustration, fear or anger broke through, times when we saw his temper, times when he was moody, but they didn't seem, outwardly to be more than any child's ups and downs. But I wonder now, whether he didn't conceal a lot more than we could feel, know or guess.
The child we saw, especially as a young boy and teen, was eager for physical challenges, whether learning to walk early, loving to climb anything he could, playing soccer, throwing the discus and javelin in track, earning his black belt in judo, SCUBA diving, fighting in the SCA, and even joining the infantry. How hard it must have been for him to accept the physical limitations of the asthma he developed.
The child I remember was a curious and questing one with a big imagination. He loved science fiction, the stars, fast vehicles.
He was eager to learn, frustrated with the lack of challenge in school, had little use for academics.
This picture of him such an icon of him at that age. Look at the determined look on his little face, the stance of his baby legs, the skinned knee. He seems focused, knows where he's going. How I wish he had found a focus for his life as a young man!
He was a "I can do it myself" child, not wanting assistance with much of anything, and resisting it even when it was needed.
Like Peter W. says, you look at this picture and he looks so huggable, so precious. I miss that little boy, and I miss the man he became.
This photo was taken at Mint Spring Valley Park in Albemarle County, Virginia in August 1976. Leif was a year-and-a-half old.