I’ve been into jigsaw puzzles for a while now. Amee bought me a membership in a puzzle rental club (elmspuzzles.com). These hand cut wooden puzzles are made in Maine. The wood is five-ply and the shapes are unique for every puzzle. The experience is rich and tactile, making cheaper puzzles no longer satisfying. They sell for upwards of $500 each and rent for close to a hundred, like Netflix, keep them until you’re done.
Grief and loss is like a jigsaw puzzle. You pour the contents out on the table, only half of the pieces come right side up. You turn them all over so you can see them at once, but none of them fit together. You begin to sort them by color, try and find the edges, try and build a frame, a border. The puzzle sits on that table for weeks or months, sometimes someone else comes by and they see a match, work a section, have an ‘a-ha moment’, something you couldn’t see by staring at it day in and out. For a long time the puzzle cannot take shape and then it begins to. Some major chunk falls into place and suddenly there are fewer unattached pieces, the fragments are fewer and now they can be dealt with and are not so overwhelming.
Pictured above is one puzzle we completed in the Fall and below, the one currently on the table. Fitting to these times, the current one has 683 pieces and is a rating of 8+ (of 10) in difficulty, but it is beginning to be tamed. It is a carpet seller’s world. We can begin to see the carpets, the room they are in and even the gowns of these mysterious bearded men. But their faces are incomplete, or missing.