Friday, April 10, 2015

Seven Years Without Leif

As a teen and adult Leif was such a towering presence in our lives, both emotionally and physically, the tallest member of our entire extended family, it's hard to realize that even though he was bigger than his friends and classmates, he must have felt small and vulnerable in the world as children do.

I haven't written any posts on this blog in some time, because it's hard to find new things to say after all these years, and repeating the same things doesn't seem to make much sense. I also wanted "new" photos of him to post.

Today it is seven years since we found his lifeless body in his apartment in Tampa. We had spent a terrifying 24 hours wondering where he was and what had happened to him, hoping he was all right somewhere because he didn't answer his phones or email, and had not showed up for work on April 9th. Should we have gone to his apartment on the 9th? It wouldn't have made any difference in saving him, as he was already dead. We didn't want to accept that possibility as long as we could hope that he was alive somewhere and just not communicating . . . which happened from time to time.

I still wonder about how it happened and why. It doesn't matter how many reasons we can find, there's nothing we can point to that made it happen just then. Why does someone finally make such an awful decision? I still wonder whether it could have been an accident, as the detective on the scene  said, rather than the suicide the medical examiner declared. I still wonder how a man so well trained in weaponry could have been so foolish as to put a loaded gun to his head and pull the trigger unless he meant it. We will never have those answers.

But it is somehow wonderful to open a box of old slides and find a "new" photo of him we haven't seen in 34 years. Back in those days, we took slides because they were cheaper than prints, and then we would only print the very best ones for our photo albums. A lot of slides really weren't print quality, or we had several that were similar and just picked the best one to print. But now, some of those that aren't really suitable for printing are wonderful to look at.

I realize more and more that our visual memories are so determined by our photos and looking at them over the years. They help to fix the pictures in our minds, and it is hard to recall how other things actually looked. I always wondered how people could say they were forgetting how some deceased loved one looked, but I can understand it if they didn't have photos they could go back to and fix in their minds. The photos also help to recall events surrounding them.

I pulled a few out of some boxes of slides Peter W. took during our years in Japan and scanned some. This was one of my favorites. What a beautiful child Leif was! I no longer remember where in Japan this was taken, though the box says it was in July 1981. Leif would have been six and a half years old. I don't remember the Mickey Mouse baseball shirt, either, but that beautiful little face I remember! The cute boy who needed a haircut I remember.

One thing that amazed me looking at these photos of him at that age was how much he looked like his niece Aly at that age. I'd never seen that before.

I wish I had time to haul out all our slides and scan all the ones of our family. Someday. There will be a lot of memories there.

For today, my memory is with Leif, the years we shared with him, and the years that have gone by without him. He will be missed every day of our lives.

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