By Sariah Daine

Decades ago, I used to fear that I would never forget the childhood abuse and all of the mental anguish that came with it.

Then–I was afraid I would forget my past, my stories.

Now, in this moment of life, I just wish I could remember I washed my ears in the shower, or not!

Fear of remembering or forgetting no longer makes up even one whole piece of this puzzle that forms my life.

Many of my neighbors spend hours, days, weeks, piecing together 1,000-piece puzzles–just like my mother did.

I’ll drop in for a visit and witness this beautiful picture coming into view–right there on the table–among the bagels, basket of fruit, prescription meds and eyeglasses, set aside. I get to witness the unfolding of the cozy country cottage, surrounded by colorful flowerbeds and a low stone wall– or see a tall sailing ship on the white-capped water beneath the multi-colored blue sky with pink, white, and gray clouds rolling around in it–maybe what comes into view is a pile of fluffy stuffed teddy bears or a luscious jungle scene with macaws and parrots flying among the green foliage. Some are famous paintings, a Renoir or Degas. Some, simply busy, repetitive patterns that can drive one quite to exasperation–but equally fine satisfaction upon completion!

Every one of these puzzle pieces, cut with exact precision–precise–each can only work one way: frame it out with all of the straight edges, then gather the clouds, pile the stones, plant the flowers, and set the sails! It can always be done–finished–each piece laid into the next–often after numerous failed attempts elsewhere… like it’s a white flower, not a cloud–a gray cloud, not a stone in the wall–a brown stone, not a teddy bear’s cheeks.

It’s the fun of it–the trial and error–the satisfaction of finally snapping, pressing that last piece into place–unless, of course it’s missing–that one last piece, gone–after 999 finally coming together to form the whole picture. If one piece is missing, that’s what we see–the smoke floating from the chimney of the cottage, interrupted–the water upon which the ship sails, interrupted–the smile on the lips of Mona Lisa, interrupted… Each one interrupted by one oddly, precisely-shaped H-O-L-E hole!

Ahhh… if only our lives left but one precisely-shaped hole! If only lives were neatly surrounded by a straight-edged, easily-snapped-together frame.

But alas, we humans are organic beings, born and always, always changing: solid/fluid, hot/cold, moving/still, yessing/noing, buoyant/deflated, peaceful/tormented, smiles/tears, learning/teaching, new/old, fresh/wilted, bright/dark, future/past, now/later… on and on we go until even our very bones and hearts matter no more.

Until that day, when we no longer need our bones to stand or our hearts to beat–until the day we’re done, we will continue our search for that one missing piece to our own puzzle of life.

This life, so organically complex–it’s undulating, juicy, always-changing way of bein–has become so sweet to me.  Perhaps the missing piece of the water, upon which the tall ship sails, says it all, eh?

Well, until my bones no longer dance to the beat of a drum and my heart no longer quickens to a kiss–I guess I’ll wash my ears–even one more time and wait for more.

More of this organic, shapeshifting, exquisite puzzle of life–one missing piece at a time.

Yeah, life is pretty good–pretty good indeed!




About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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