He was the missing piece to this complicated puzzle
Everyone knew my parents had been killed in a car accident the year before. Few asked about it which was perfect because that’s how I wanted it.
Numb is how I would describe myself throughout my teenage years. But I made sure that friends from my new high school wouldn’t have described me that way. Cheery, engaged, and easy-going, I seemed as content and ‘normal’ as any other kid walking the cream-colored hallways at school.
It was work.
By laughing on cue, dating cute guys, and doing well enough in all my classes I could carry on the ‘I’m fine’ facade. Hardly anyone asked how my insides were doing because, well, Look how much fun she’s having. She’s dating the football quarterback (well, we didn't have a football team but you get the gist). She’s always got friends around.
To be fair, I did enjoy the last couple of years of high school. There were boyfriends and best friends, starring in the school musical (don’t be impressed, I was Oliver Twist), and senior year trips. When I consider the losses that my teenage heart had to decipher and attend to on a daily basis, it’s amazing to me that I could function so nonchalantly through those years.
I’ve asked friends from those days if they remember me talking much about Mom and Dad, the accident, or our time in Ottawa. They all agree that no, I must have just corked it all. Instead, I joked and functioned my way through.
After high school there was a year of work, a year at school in Montreal, a year in Europe, and then three years at university in Toronto.
Joking, dating, laughing, doing.
I can’t remember a tear shed. For years.
Did I cry myself to sleep every once and a while? Did I keep a journal or would that have been just too painful? Oh, how I wish I had written it all down. Without a doubt it would have been too much to write about my inner turmoil at night while trying to keep up appearances by day.
While living in Toronto, a friend from university invited me to listen to him and his band at a local venue. His best friend, Tony, would be there that night. Tony’d heard about me, not sure if I’d heard about Tony.
No sparks flew for me that night. Too loud and crowded for a love connection.
But two months later at a dinner party that I hosted and he attended in an accidental sort of way, something flew. Not quite sparks, but the red-tipped match was definitely out of the box and ready to strike.
A year later we were married. When you know you know and we knew three weeks into dating. We still know twenty-seven (and a half!) happy years later.
What was different about Tony? He was safe. He allowed me and all of my insides to come out. He listened and loved. He didn’t push or pry. He held me and held me and held me.
Committed to the end after so much had been snatched away from me over and over again. Now I had a sure place. A home.
Except for the first few weeks after the accident, it’s only after being married that I can remember weeping about my parents. I must have cried before that but if I did, I can’t recall.
Love is patient and kind and trusts and protects and is all the things that the Good Book declares.
My husband’s love allowed me to feel again. His guitar playing skills, sculpted biceps, and easy laughter were bonuses.
He was the missing piece of my oh-so-complicated puzzle. I didn’t even know I was missing anything.
I’m still not a major weeper but I’m more in touch with all my big feels than I used to be. A book with just the right ending, choir music (my dad always sang in a choir) while driving alone, or a commercial about loved ones reuniting at Christmas can make me a mascara-smeared mess. But now I’m thankful for the tears.
This is just a little reminder that the missing piece of your life’s puzzle is likely just around the corner. Or under the table, or stuck in a drawer.
When the puzzle is complete you can see the whole picture. And you can see the cracks.
But you can still see the picture…