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The Puzzle

Every event in the world and in our individual lives happens for a reason. Often it is a counterpoint to an ordered existence of opposites. While there is joy, there will be sorrow; while there is good, there will be evil; while there is health, there will be sickness. If you live long enough, you will experience many of these converse moments, and you will come to understand that nobody is immune from the swinging pendulum of existence.

A year ago, I was in remission, working hard to reclaim my life, rebuild my stamina, and enjoy my days. But like a ghoulish presence waiting in the shadows to attack once more, cancer returned exactly three hundred and sixty-two days after my final treatment, eleven months after my first clear scan. I was stunned; I thought I had beaten the odds.

I could describe the range of emotions that I felt as I was told that I would need surgery and chemotherapy once again. I tried to bargain with God and my doctor about keeping my hair. But the lessons of my first dance with the cancer devil have stayed with me, and I won’t repeat them. This journey continues to teach me about peace and surrender and faith. It continues to show me that people can be kind and loving. And I continue to learn that I am stronger than I ever imagined myself to be.

When I was a child, I was given a bag full of intricate puzzle pieces. I asked about the box because without a picture to guide me, I had no idea how each would interlock, nor would I know what image I was constructing. I was discouraged by having to work so blindly, and if I remember correctly, I finally gave up in frustration. But that experience taught me something: each piece has no real meaning until you find where it fits. And only through the painstaking process of trial and error does the picture finally emerge.

And this is certainly true of life. I have met some amazing people, had some adventurous moments, survived some difficult challenges, and each has been a puzzle piece that has connected with another to expose more of the portrait of my existence, the mural which tells the story of my presence on this planet. I suppose when my days on this earth are done, what I have been creating will finally be revealed. And I hope that it is a beautiful image of a happy place, one where my soul is at peace.

The road to self-discovery is full of pot holes, barriers, and obstacles, both self-imposed and placed there by others. Instinctively, we know that something powerful awaits us at our destination and so we trudge on, accept the detours and often painfully place one foot in front of the other.

And always, we welcome the traveling companions, those who guide us and those who simply keep us company. Thanks for being one of mine.

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