Posted by: susanideus | December 2, 2006

Missing Pieces

I’ve never much liked putting jig-saw puzzles together — trying to fit all those oddly-shaped pieces together to make up a picture.  I’d rather just have the picture!

Unfortunately, life is often a puzzle and we don’t always even know where all the pieces are.  We don’t get to see the finished picture this side of heaven.  But, oh my, those pesky missing pieces can be a problem.  You know there is something missing, but you don’t know what it is or why you can’t find it.  With a real puzzle, maybe the dog ate that missing piece — in our family, that’s almost a sure bet — and you can bet he can’t eat just one…but I’m getting away from my point here.

The point is that I know intuitively when I don’t have the whole picture.  Take my relationship with my mother.  Always rocky, alway challenging, sometimes painful.  But I never felt that I knew all the whys of what made it so.  Most people like me.  Quite a few even love me. I’m relatively smart, well-educated and a hard worker.  I am married to the world’s best husband, and hav the two most wonderful and accomplished daughters a mother could ask for (along with a pretty terrific son-in-law too!).  We’ll never be wealthy but we’re richly blessed. None of this made a difference to my mother.  I never measured up in her eyes.  Nothing I did was ever enough. To make matters worse, my personality was the polar opposite of hers.  It seemed that everything about me somehow irritated her.  And I’ve never known why…

Two weeks ago, I found out that I would have had an older sister had she lived.  You know, 58 years is a long time to wait for that kind of revelation.  I might never have known, but my cousin brought it up in an email, assuming that I knew — she’d known since she was a young child.  She’d even stood at my sister’s grave when she & her mother visited the cemetery to take flowers.  My sister’s name is Sharon.  I don’t know if she was stillborn, or whether she lived a short time.  I may never know.

After 58 years, one might ask what difference it makes.  Why, after all this time, should it cause such angst?  She was family.  And families shouldn’t forget family.  I guess I didn’t even have the chance to forget her — I simply never knew.

Is she one of the missing pieces?  Is it significant that she died and I lived?  Is that too far-fetched a thought?  It’s one that came to me almost instantly when I found out about her.  What if my mother resented the fact that I lived and her first daughter died?  What if she saw something in Sharon that she found lacking in me?  What if she invested me with all of the dreams for both of her daughters?  And, she found me lacking?  The sad thing is that I will never know the truth of that, will I?  Sometimes, oftentimes, not knowing the truth makes the imagining all that much worse.

Harold and I lost our first baby — stillborn on my birthday.  Amy was never kept a secret.  She was family.  She lived inside of me for nine months.   She was loved.  Losing her undoubtedly caused the greatest pain I have ever felt.  Having two healthy happy daughters several years later gave me the greatest joy.  They know about Amy, and when they think of me on my birthday, they remember their sister.  She was real.  She was family.  She wasn’t a secret.

I don’t like missing pieces.

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