Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Leif's 39th Birthday

Thirty-nine years ago I first held Leif in my arms, a big, strong baby, who was a far more beautiful child than this picture shows . . . but I have so few of me and my baby son.

Thirty-nine years ago, this was such a happy day. Our Leif Ashley was born at Irwin Army Hospital, Fort Riley, Kansas.

How I wish he were here with us to celebrate his birthday. Every birthday since his death has been hard for me, glad to remember the joy of his coming into the world, so very hard to realize that his life ended at 33, and these birthdays do not mark another year older, do not bring a celebration, do not see him blowing out candles or opening a present. Hard to realize he will never do those things again.

This is his sixth birthday since his death. Some five years ago, I decided what I wanted to do for his birthday was to do something he would have enjoyed, in his honor, to make the day worthwhile, to seize the life we have and remember him.

And although Peter W. would prefer not to go there, as it is a sad reminder, I would like to visit Bay Pines Cemetery on Leif's birthday. I've wanted to just go there and sit and think or read, and just be.

And, I wanted time to look at photos and savor memories, remember the thirty-three years of his life, his laugh, his smile, his bear hugs, his rascally eyes.

My plans to do any of these things have mostly come to naught. Several of them have been spent taking care of my mother's medical needs. Like today; I spent a total of 12 hours either with her or taking care of things for her. Then I still had to take care of things at home. Now I'm exhausted and it's nearly midnight, and I haven't had any time to spend with my Leif.

It may sound foolish to say I want to spend time with him, but even though I know it's one-sided, even though I know he isn't there, I want to spend the time thinking of him, remembering him. It feels wrong and hurts my heart that I can't take that day "with" him . . . at least in my heart.

I'd like to wish him a Happy Birthday, though he is not here to celebrate it with me. I'd like to wish that somewhere, he is happy, though I do not really believe he is still a part of the universe in any discreet and personal sense.

I would not want my grief and the way I miss him to make him unhappy or sad. He had enough of that in his short life. I would want him to be happy, to laugh, to smile, to find the joy he lost.

Happy 39th birthday, my son.

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