When I first heard of my husband’s death, I felt as if I would never be whole again. My heart shattered into a thousand pieces and I had no way of putting them all back together again. The pieces didn’t just fall around me, either, they fell everywhere that we had been together. They fell on the Californian beach that we had spent our first vacation at, the park where we exchanged our rings in front of our family and friends promising our love forever, the inn we stayed in when a road trip turned into the best disaster ever, and every other place that I spent time with him or that reminded me of him. These pieces were stretched across the entire country, and I needed them to be whole again.
The pieces, it turned out, would literally require me to travel to each place and collect them if I was to ever have a functioning heart again. They would drive me down paths that only crazy people would take, paths that I would learn to love, because they meant I was getting closer to him.
The days before his funeral were surprisingly not the hardest part of the grieving process. That part came later, when everything had calmed down and people trusted me to be alone. Those were the hard times. But, in planning his funeral, I came up with the most ridiculous and exciting thing I have ever done. This simple idea I came up with to ease the pain started what would become a lifetime adventure. I was going to search for the pieces to my heart, and attempt to put them back together into a shape that partially resembled what it once had been.
The funeral itself was an ordinary one. People came, payed their respects, shed a few tears, and left. Some stuck around to make sure I was okay, but even they had to leave at some point. I remember at the funeral I was a mess. Thinking back, that may have been the reason so few did stay. I may have scared the others off with the crazy way I looked. But, I didn’t care then, and to this day, I still have not felt a single piece of remorse for it. Just before the casket was closed, however, I reached into it, gave James’ hand one last squeeze, and kissed his forehead. I also snuck a single puzzle piece I had taken from his favorite jigsaw puzzle into his hand. The puzzle had a few thousand pieces, and this one was the exact center piece. Just like he was the center of my heart. On the back I had written, very small, “forever.”
Some people may have thought the idea crazy, but I didn’t really care, it was my own way of grieving and carrying on with myself. Or, in all actuality, whatever this new person was. James made me whole, so, I guess you could compare me to one half of a whole heart. It has the slightest ability to function, but it is more difficult without the other half there to support it and work with it.
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