Life, Musings, Reflections, Time, Writing

Fitting the Pieces Together

After my father’s sudden death four years ago, my mother spent nearly every waking moment working jigsaw puzzles. For more than a year, she sat sorting, moving, fitting piece after piece to create the final picture. Hour upon hour. Like a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As soon as she fit the last piece in one puzzle, she tore it apart and reached for another.

Her life was in chaos. She created order out of a thousand one-inch pieces because she could not, was not ready to create a new order in her life. As her hands worked, her mind let go. As much as possible, she ignored the present, even listening to WWII music, the music of her youth, the music she danced and sang to before my father entered her life.

Gradually, her puzzle obsession waned. My father was gone. She was not. Life would go on.

The death of a loved one is surely the most severe disruption of our lives, but no matter what has knocked us off kilter it takes time and patience to get back on track. We have to sort out what went wrong and then, piece by piece, form a new picture.

Time and patience. I need them both.

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Update: After a couple comments, I see this post has caused some unintended concern. I am all right.

16 thoughts on “Fitting the Pieces Together”

  1. I had a more selfish response to this post, Linda, because I felt that it was reflective and not current. First, it is a poignant description of how one can cope with grief. And then, I love the simplicity of your mother’s solution to “putting the pieces back together” and it’s something I believe I’ll try the next time I’m falling apart.


  2. Linda, this is just a lovely post. Hope you’ll incorporate the idea of working on jigsaw puzzles b/c you can’t put your own life in order into a story or novel.


    1. Thank you, Cynthia. That’s an interesting idea, to incorporate puzzle working in a story. In my latest novel, I have a character who obsessively records his memories in journals to avoid grieving his loss.


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