While this blog is my happy and creative place to catalog all things DIY and home related, I also feel the need to be honest and candid with major events in my life. A while back I took a break from the norm and posted about training wheels. Today, I am taking another break and giving you a very raw look at my grief.
“Mom! Mom! Maaaahummmmm!” bellowed my six year old daughter. “What, Riley?” “There’s a missing piece. I can’t find the last piece. I can’t finish my puzzle without the last piece. Do you know where it is?” It’s just a puzzle. It’s just one hundred pieces of intricately planned out pieces that fit snugly together to create a beautiful picture. It’s just a puzzle. It’s cardboard. I told her we could make a new one. Mommy could surely create a piece that looked like the missing one. “It won’t be the same. We can’t make one just like it. It will look different, mom.”
She was right. No matter how hard I tried, traced, cut, and colored, I could not create a piece that looked just like the original. The puzzle was incomplete. Plain and simple. Incomplete. Today is the one year mark of losing my brother, Tim. Incomplete. Our family is missing a piece to our puzzle. On vacations growing up, we would all work together on a putting together a huge puzzle over the course of the trip. We would gather as families to be together and when we felt like it, we could go to the game table and add more pieces to the ever growing masterpiece. I was quite young during one of these trips. After hours spent working on the puzzle, it was complete except for one piece. But this time, the piece wasn’t lost. I, at age three, had hidden the last piece of the puzzle. A bit shady, I will admit, but I wanted to be the one to complete the puzzle.
There is great satisfaction in completing something and placing the last piece into position to reveal the image in its entirety. I would love nothing more than to magically pull out the missing piece to our puzzle and to see the whole again. There is something so desperate deep down inside of me that just wants that puzzle to be whole again. I want that for my parents. For my sister. For all those who loved my brother. I have come to realize in a year’s time that grief sucks. Grief is a constant nagging ache that dissipates at times and then comes back with an unrelenting power that knocks you to your knees. It can take your breath away. Not in a good way.
I will not sugar coat the toll grief takes on a family. I do know that after one year, our family puzzle still feels incomplete. And I have come to accept that it always will. It’s not something that will magically go away nor will we ever be able to duplicate a piece to our puzzle so that it fits snugly once again. So the question remains, what do you do with a puzzle that has a missing piece? I suppose the answer will be different for everyone. I am choosing to set that one aside and build a new puzzle. One that is intricately made up of memories and images of the past. One that propels me to make sense of our new normal and to pursue all things that make us feel complete. As complete as we can feel. I allow myself to cry, to breakdown, to take a day off. I have come to know that in doing so I can work on my new picture of reality. I have jumped feet first into pursing my own dreams. I have looked at my children in a new way. I have fallen even deeper in love with my husband. I have accepted the role of taking care of our family and all that it means so that we can live snugly in this new image of life with a missing piece.
Riley decided to leave the puzzle as is. She didn’t want the make-shift piece I made for her. She accepted the puzzle with it’s missing piece and is proud of how she put it together. That’s a beautiful thing. And to my family, I am beginning to realize that our missing piece is not truly missing, but snugly in place waiting for the rest of our pieces to join. So we move forward and create all the beauty we can in this life. We work together. We raise each other up. We acknowledge the pain. We continue to add pieces of our own until one day we see the puzzle from a different perspective. In all of its glory.
Tim and me
I love you. I miss you.