Another Piece of the (grieving) Puzzle

I woke up crying today. And raindrop tears were falling outside.

raindrop tears falling in Timberlake

raindrop tears falling in Timberlake

This is a holiday; a day to celebrate time with family. This is my birthday; a day to celebrate ME. But instead, I’ve been crying for the past few days. I’ve wished this day could be skipped and we could just move on to Tuesday. All of which makes me angry…

This day is also my son’s birthday. He should have been 21 today. But he died five years ago and the picture of my expectations was broken into a million pieces. My bright and colorful life became a puzzle that had to be put back together again.

The first year was hard. The pieces of life were scattered and there was no picture to guide me in reassembling the puzzle. Even the bright, colorful shards were little help. They were hard to recognize in the gray fog of grief. Gradually the outlines were rebuilt that first year; with a piece here and a piece there fitting together. We rebuilt mother’s day and his birthday…click. We survived family gatherings…click. We tried new ways of doing Thanksgiving and Christmas…click. We got through the anniversary of his death…click. The corners and frame for “Life Without James” came together and the first year was finished.

The second year was a little easier. Putting together a puzzle always goes more quickly once the outer edges are clear. It even seemed, at times, like we had glimpses of the guide picture. It felt like we had some clue of what on-going life was going to be like. And it would be okay…

In the years since then, we keep working at the puzzle. I am less afraid of the holes, knowing that a new picture will fill in the empty places. When I find myself sobbing (or angry), I’ve learned to twist the pieces this way and that, looking at the situation from different perspectives. Eventually, I find the missing piece and one more bit of the puzzle comes together and fills the hole. The grief is still there, but it is less fearsome when fitted into a larger picture.

I woke up crying today. And it took a while to figure out why. This hole is bigger than a shared birthday. It is larger than a gray, rainy day. This is a jagged edged gap that threatens to swallow me in to nothingness. Until another piece of the puzzle fell into place this morning…click.

"Grieving Jesus" at OKC Memorial

“Grieving Jesus” at OKC Memorial

Since James died, we have lived in temporary settings. We wandered the West in an RV. We lived with family while we went back to school. We worked with at-risk youth in Navajoland. We lived with family again through five months of unemployment. All of these things were safe. The bits of the puzzle put together in those areas felt secure. A picture of what life might be like was coming together. And it would be okay…

Then my husband started a new job…back in Ohio. We bought a house…back in Ohio. Life is moving forward…back in Ohio. And that makes me angry. I don’t WANT to be in Ohio. I want my temporary living back. I want the guide picture back. Living in Ohio has too many holes. James is missing wherever I turn. Life is turning back to what it was before he died, but he is no longer here to live it with us. Family and friends who never visited us in our temporary settings are already planning to visit us here. Here in this place and in this home that James will never be part of. Ahhh…another piece of the (grieving) puzzle is coming together…click.

There is comfort in seeing the shape of this little piece. There is comfort in knowing the puzzle will continue to be put back together. There is even comfort in understanding this hole. But comfort still doesn’t feel good. My life shattered into a million pieces five years ago. And sometimes I just want the old picture back.

raindrop tears and an empty bench at Timberlake

raindrop tears and an empty bench at Timberlake

I woke up crying today. And raindrop tears were falling outside.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Donna Parcell
    May 27, 2013 @ 07:21:53

    this is beautiful Jill. and with your permission I would like to share it with other grieving families.


    • jecolorfulheart
      May 27, 2013 @ 07:56:08

      Donna–feel free to share it with ANYone for whom it might give encouragement. We have learned that sharing our story helps make a little sense out of losing our son…


  2. Admin
    May 27, 2013 @ 16:40:12

    My heart hurts for you as I read this and I commend you for sharing. Sending love, mother to mother, across the miles xxx


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