A few years back I took my oldest son out one night to try to see a comet. We stared at the sky for a long time trying to see it. At times we tried to convince ourselves that we could see it but we both knew we didn’t. We were persistent, I followed the map of stars that would lead to us seeing the comet to no avail, and stood there in an empty parking lot on top of a big hill staring and hoping to see the comet, if only just a glimpse! We might have stayed there all night but the moon came up and the coyotes started howling and my son, who has always been much wiser than I, suggested (strongly) that perhaps we should leave rather than become a late night snack for the coyotes. We tried dad, he said, and maybe we did see it but just didn’t realize it.
For the past two and a half months I haven’t been looking for a comet, but I do find myself looking for a very bright star that was in our family. At any given time of any given day I know where our star should be but, like the comet, I can’t see it. It’s sometimes hard to see life continue despite the fact that our star is missing. It’s hard seeing the absence of our star. That void shouldn’t exist. The star should still be shining brightly and filling our lives with it’s warming and loving light.
Teresa should still be here. Not the absence of Teresa.
Life has become something like a jigsaw puzzle. I feel like there are a lot of pieces that I’m trying to put together to make life for the kids and I look like a coherent picture again. Some of these pieces are harder to put together but I know I can do it. I also know that there is a piece missing. Not a piece from the side or one that’s tucked away in a corner somewhere where it wouldn’t be very noticeable. It’s the piece that goes right in the middle. It’s the piece that made the picture complete.
Knowing this piece is missing and knowing that the picture is not going to be complete makes it difficult at times to stay motivated to keep putting the remaining pieces together. The biggest motivation to keep going, to keep putting the puzzle together, is our two sons. My boys mean the world to me and I will do everything I can to make this puzzle as close to perfect as I possibly can for them. The absence of their mom is something that will always be with them but if I can help make the remaining aspects of their lives as good as possible, I will do so.
I cannot fail them.
In addition to the kids, I want to succeed in completing the rest of the puzzle for everyone that has shown us so much support, kindness and love. I want to show them that none of what they did for us was for naught. I want to succeed for Teresa. I want her to be proud of me. More than anything I want her to be proud of me.
So, while I have several sources of motivation to complete the puzzle the difficult part, still, is the missing piece and the emotional impact it has while viewing the rest of the puzzle. Right now, when I think about the missing piece, about Teresa, the emotional impact is immediate and acute. I want to see her again. I want to talk to her again, I want to tell her about all that has happened while she was away. I don’t want to believe that these things will never happen again.
But I have to.
The impact of remembering over and over that Teresa is not here any longer is devastating. Through that feeling of devastation and tears I am trying to see the rest of the puzzle the best I can. I’m trying to understand the missing piece and what it means.
My hope is that, eventually, I will look at the puzzle and see that the missing piece has been filled with all of the beautiful memories that myself and the kids have of Teresa. Her beauty. Her sense of humor. Her courage. Her dedication. Her love. Her devotion. Her giving 100% to everything that she did. Her garden. Her cooking. Her gifts. Her work. Her caring.
I’m not there yet, but I hope to be someday. Right now I’m still processing everything. I’m still working on completing the rest of the puzzle. I’m not ready to give up the pain of her absence yet. I’m not quite ready to give up the regrets that I have of not telling more how much I loved her. Telling her how beautiful she was more. Doing more to ease the burdens that she had. I’m not ready to do that yet but I am working on it.
When I was a kid my dad took me out many an early morning to see Haley’s Comet. We would drive to an overpass outside of town and look up at the sky and see something that was bright and could have been a comet. Or it could have been a star. I’m pretty sure it was a star, or maybe a planet. Maybe we saw the comet without realizing it though.
Maybe when I see the void her absence has left, I am seeing Teresa without realizing it.
Maybe when I see the hole in the puzzle left by the missing piece, I am seeing Teresa without realizing it.