Every Christmas my husband Roy is gifted with several new jigsaw puzzles. He has an annual competition with his sister in law to see who will be the first to complete the identical puzzles they receive from her daughter, who seems to delight in the complexity of the puzzles she chooses.
One year the puzzle took a long time to put together. Some large areas were very grey and muted, tone on tone with some splashes of brighter colours. For some reason the colouration of this picture got me thinking of our son Kenneth. He has now been absent from us for more years than he was with us. Kenneth left us at twenty-four years and this October we will gather together to give thanks for the gift of his life for the fifty-sixth time.
Sometimes when I think of Kenneth it all seems so long ago that I wonder if I dreamt him. Like the puzzle, the past seems kind of grey, tone on tone, fuzzy. Other times there are memories that flash before me, brilliant in colour and clarity.
This is like remembering my own life. When I put all the little pieces together it really is like a jigsaw puzzle or a mosaic. There is light, dark, monotone and brilliance. Altogether it makes a picture that has taken a lifetime to put together. Sometimes like jigsaw puzzles some pieces get lost, dropped and hunted for; the picture isn’t complete until all the pieces are found.
When I look at all the puzzling pieces of my life and try to fit them together I realize that although I didn’t choose this particular puzzle it was mine to put together and if I had missed or lost those pieces that were Kenneth my puzzle would be incomplete and the picture not so beautiful without those splashes of brilliance that were him.
About the Author
Arleen is a bereaved parent whose son, Kenneth Bruce Simmonds, drowned while fishing off the shore of the Thompson River near Kamloops, B.C. Canada. She has been involved in a co-leadership capacity with her local chapter of The Compassionate Friends since 1989 and has been the editor of their chapter's newsletter since 1991. She has written many poems and short articles for several wonderful publications.
She and her husband, Roy, have been married for sixty years. They have two surviving sons, a daughter, 4 grandsons and a great-grandson.