When I was little, there was one puzzle my grandmother kept under a little table in her apartment. It may be my first memory of doing a puzzle. Every time I went to my grandparents house, this was the thing that kept me entertained. If I close my eyes right now, I can almost picture the paper frayed box, cracked and worn from many children’s hands. I can almost smell the memory, and see myself opening the box and dumping the interlocking jigsaw shaped pieces onto the carpet. I can see my chubby little hands, trying to weave those pieces together to complete the picture. I remember the satisfaction of completing it.

To my memory, I believe it was a puzzle of “King Leonardo”, a popular comic at the time. I remember that several of the puzzle pieces included King Leonardo’s ermine trimmed robe and his pointy crown. He had a mane of brown fur outlined in black and a black nose shaped like an inverted triangle. He always looked a little snooty as I recall. I remember the excitement of getting that puzzle out of its special place under the table, and doing it over and over and over again. It was the only toy I remember being at my grandparents house. It was probably the only one my grandfather would allow. He wasn’t someone you would associate with the word “fun. Kids were to be seen and not heard. But I digress…

Puzzles are satisfying to me, as they are to many people. I love “puzzling” because the act of doing a puzzle is a project with a beginning, a middle and an end. You can spend hours or days doing a puzzle. You can leave it out and come back to it whenever you want and for me, the only true satisfaction is in the placement of the final piece. The feeling of completing a project and seeing the entire picture fit together before your eyes is satisfying. Unless…unless there is a piece missing. Only then is the work, the effort, the satisfaction of completing something you’ve given so much of yourself to is cut short by the missing piece. In my eyes, the whole puzzle now seems broken and it has a hole in it where balance and contentment were supposed to live. It is incomplete and there is nothing you can do to satisfy filling that empty space. Nothing.

This is what grief is like to me. I can sit with all of my beautiful puzzle pieces for hours and hours fitting them all together but without the one piece that brings the pieces of the puzzle to a whole, it feels broken and leaves an empty space where balance and contentment used to live. The puzzle is forever incomplete and there is nothing…absolutely nothing, you can do to satisfy that empty space. Nothing.

“When my heart falls to pieces on the ground like a difficult puzzle which I will never put back together”