Puzzle Pieces

I have tried to sit down and collect my thoughts for several weeks now, but in what can only be classified as one of the most challenging years of my life, I have really struggled to put those thoughts in to words. When my Mom started her hospice journey the world began to lock down due to a global pandemic. I walked in to her home knowing my life was about to drastically change, I was just never prepared for how greatly it would. Life as I knew it ended the moment she took her last breath. The next morning when I woke up not only was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle that is me gone, but life as we knew it outside of that was gone too…simply disappeared. I heard the word quarantine in my life, I just had never had to apply it. Had Mom chosen hospice just a few more days, hours later really, we may not have been able to spend her last days on Earth with her. I think about that a lot. How one choice, one decision, one move in a different direction could have changed the whole ending.

A song, a person, a gesture, a face, a noise, a light, any number of these and other things can trigger that catastrophe of ugly crying that can ensue if those hit at just the right moment. You have no idea when that will be or what will do it, but it is physically impossible to stop once it starts. My Aunt Michelle shared the song I am including in this post with me, simply saying “it reminds me of your mom.” It took me several weeks to listen to it, but once I did I knew why.

In the moments that I really struggle with her death, I try to imagine this very scene. That when God took her back, he most certainly said Hallelujah, You’re Home. I try to imagine this very intently because I cannot conceive of any other scenario. I do appreciate people who say she is in a better place (but honestly cannot confirm that because I have never been.) I do appreciate people who say she is at peace (but honestly I have no idea, she had very little peace on Earth and a very unpeaceful death.) The people that say these things say them because they believe. I believe too, some days are harder than others. I cannot imagine a soul like hers just ending. Just disappearing in to a big black void. Her soul was too big for that. It had too much energy.

The truth of the matter is that we had been watching my Mom die from the moment her mother did. My mom was never the same person after my Grandma Rosie died. Whatever pieces of my moms puzzle that my grandma held together (because that is what Moms are supposed to do, hold your puzzle pieces, its up to us to put them together…)whatever those pieces were, they fell apart when my grandma took her last breath. Mom was never the same. If you knew her before and you knew her after, you knew there was a before and after and after was brutal. She did her best to find the beauty in things, but it was never the same for her, not one single part of her life. So in all honesty, as my sister so eloquently put it once, we have been grieving the loss of her for as long as we can remember.

I have struggled since March with this knowledge. That the same thing may happen to me that happened to my Mom. That Tiffany “before” will not be Tiffany “after.” And that is a fact of life honestly, I cannot possibly be the same person I was before this loss I know that. I just can’t. But my biggest fear is that my puzzle pieces would be scattered and I would not know how to put them back together. It takes enormous amounts of effort some days just to keep all our puzzle pieces in the same box. And then it dawned on me that my entire life I have been trying to put those pieces together, to see what the picture would show. We don’t come with a picture on the front of a box to tell us what it “should” look like, but we sure have it in our head what it is “supposed” to look like don’t we? If I close my eyes, our puzzles look like one giant horizontal landscape. The pieces fill in as we go through life. The picture becomes clearer. To the right of the puzzle is a big pile of pieces. The important part is knowing all of those pieces will show us something. It is not what it will show us that is the key, but keeping all of the pieces together so that it will. There are parts of my puzzle that are incredibly painful to see put together. My accident, the loss of my father, the loss of my beloved Brodie…the loss of my Mom. It takes enormous amounts of effort to look at the put together parts some days, and it takes even more effort to get yourself to understand that what is coming can be beautiful or it may be brutal, but you have to keep building it. And my biggest fear is that I would just put the box away and stop. It would just stop, right here, right now. This is it. This is enough.

We are all puzzles. Odd shaped pieces just trying to find the space that we fit in to. I know my Mom would not want me to put my puzzle away. I know she would be excited to see the next part of the picture. I know she would be supportive. I know she would have an opinion about it.

Sharing this song with you. I did have an angel in the shape of my Mom. God did say Hallelujah, You’re Home when she came in. She loved it here, for reasons I am not sure but man she sure did. I do know that one of her favorite things to do, even if it hurt, was to watch the 3 of us put our puzzles together. I know when she had to let us go to start building the puzzles on our own was one of the hardest days of her life. I know because when I had to let her go to start keeping track of my own pieces was the hardest day of mine.

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