Monday, July 16, 2012

Are you over it yet?

Peter asked me on our bike ride yesterday whether I was "over" Leif's death after four years. I told him no, that I still felt like the man we sat with at a German American Club Christmas Party a couple of years ago whose 17-year-old daughter had committed suicide some fifteen years ago . . . that it still hurt just as much, just not as often.

We didn't continue to discuss it then, but today I asked him whether HE was "over it," and he said he thought he was. But then it occurred to me that so often we use words in different ways. What did "over it" mean to him? So I asked.

He said he still thinks of Leif "all the time" and misses him, but that life must go on and that he was able to enjoy our trip to Germany.

I guess my definition is different. I knew all along that life had to go on, and since Leif died I've helped take care of my mother through a broken back and a broken hip, and now am helping her with another move. We've traveled to Egypt, South America, Alaska, Germany, India and Russia since Leif's death, and I've enjoyed the trips. Most of each day I'm busy and functioning well. I don't dwell on his death the way I did for the first three years after he died. I cry more rarely, but I still do get tears in my eyes, and once in awhile grief still comes back for a pity party.

If being "over it" means being able to function and enjoy life most of the time, I guess I am . . . but if being "over it" means it no longer hurts or affects me, or that I no longer miss him, or that I no longer question and wonder why, no, I am not "over it," and I don't think I ever will be.

There is something so integral to one's life about being a parent, about loving someone so completely, that even if we can eventually let go of the daily depths of grief, we can never really let go of the person we love and miss so much.

I was thinking just today, again, of all Leif's things I still have and what to do with them when there he had no family to give them to, no children to wonder about their father, no grandchildren who would like having his things.

I was thinking of all the memories that we cherish, how glad I am to have them, and yet how hard it sometimes is to remember and know what we have lost.

There are so many days I'd like to write on this blog but find no time. The demands of life have closed in and taken away the time I used to spend each day here with "Remembering Leif," and it may seem to the casual reader of the blog as though I am no longer remembering as often or as deeply, but that would be untrue.

I'm glad I had the time in the first two years after Leif's death to write more often, even daily, to be with him in my mind's eye and share those moments in some inner way with him. Now those moments are fewer, but not because I think of him any less.

I think Peter, too, wishes for more of that time. He checks the blog every day and waits to see whether I've written anything new, tells me I should write something, even if it is short. He may be "over it," but he's not over wanting to see the photos and read about our son.

This photo of Peter and Leif was taken in the back yard of our old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas, in June 1976 when Leif was a year-and-a-half old. He had been playing in the little wading pool and gotten tuckered out, so he climbed up on daddy and fell asleep in the sun, all cuddled up, safe and warm. He must have felt so snuggled up and loved . . . and he was. It's a precious moment, to have a little boy asleep on you like that. They both were so young then.

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