Sunday, September 15, 2013

Leif on December 29, 1996

Here's an unusual photo of Leif, with short hair and a beard and mustache and the large lens glasses that were the fashion at the time. It was taken December 29, 1996, when he was just shy of 22 years old, at a family gathering in our old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas. He looks a bit solemn and thoughtful.

I found the photo among my mother's things, many photos I'd never seen. She always made prints of the best ones for all those in them, but there were many she never thought were good enough to share. Leif was part of a family group in this photo but I chose to scan only his face.

Most of the time, he either had long or short hair and no facial hair, or facial hair and no hair on his head. He also usually had a goatee and not a full beard, so there are few photos of him like this.

He was married and in college at the time. Finances were tight, but not yet desperate. I think the realities of adult life were just starting to set in.

I think, sometimes, about all of the places that were associated with him that are no longer . . . our old stone house, which was demolished, for instance, restaurants we used to go to together that went out of business, the places he went to preschool.

I wonder, sometimes, whether he could have made it if he hadn't had a gun in his hand that April 9th.

I think about what a beautiful child he was, and how full of bright intelligence. Why did he never find a focus for it?

Life is so full of questions. He looks full of questions in this photo, though of course I don't know what was really going through his mind. It's hard to believe that eleven years later he would be dead.

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