Miriam is so good at jigsaw puzzles. Like, shockingly good. She’s three and a half and is better at puzzles now than I’ve ever been or ever had a desire to be. She’s mastered her Disney Princess puzzle and moved onto her Frozen floor puzzle. That one has now been constructed and deconstructed ten times over. It’s a piece of cake now, too.
I’ve just dumped out her biggest challenge yet onto the kitchen floor. Forty six pieces of Minnie and Daisy hanging out, just shootin’ the shit. Fifteen minutes later, it’s done. And now back to the Disney Princess puzzle.
Each time she does a puzzle, with minimal help from me I must add, she says things like “we have to finish” and “don’t give up mommy” and “let’s keep going”. I’m sure she’s absorbed those sayings from me. The irony is that I tend to give up easily. I don’t always finish. And often I really don’t want to keep going.
After Noah died, I didn’t want to keep going. I remember saying to Hal that I wasn’t afraid of roller coasters anymore. I wasn’t afraid of anything. I remember not caring if he drove a little faster on the parkway than I liked. It was freeing. I wouldn’t say I wanted to die but I didn’t care if I did.
When we realized getting pregnant again was not going to be as easy as it was with Noah, we often used the saying FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. It was the closest we could come to verbalizing the desperation we felt to be a family again. With a grain of humor. This was the only thing that would keep us going. A child. It’s a real mind game to start as the young-ish couple with the perfect little boy, a nice little apartment, healthy, happy, and in love. And then you wake up into a nightmare. How do you not give up? How DO you keep going?
I read a lot of books about child loss. Then I starting reading books about life after death theories. Then books about angels. I also went back and re-read stories from my collection of books on the Holocaust. I’ve always been consumed by the topic of the Holocaust. Reading the stories of human suffering helped me to put my thoughts someplace else. Someplace beyond recognition. Millions of families brutally torn apart. Some survivors made so much of their lives after the camps. Some survivors simply survived. And some did not. How was I going to survive? If they could, I could too. Right?
I would wake up. And the next day I would wake up again. The worst part were those few seconds between asleep and awake when I’d realize Noah really did die. I was living a fragmented, jigsaw puzzle of a life. This piece before I met Hal fits into this piece of our whirlwind romance. Those pieces fit into our newlywed year and then a new piece is added when Noah is born. All those pieces fit together into our family of three. Then the folding table shakes and the puzzle pieces go flying. I leave them on the floor for awhile. It’s just too overwhelming to start putting the pieces back together. But I guess maybe I got tired of stepping over them every day. These pieces needed to go back together for them to make any sense. What picture would they make? They’d make me. And that’s the only picture I know.