I normally don’t work puzzles. Time is a very precious resource. I believe it is the MOST precious resource! I usually can always find something I deem more important than putting a nice picture someone cut into 1,000 pieces back together. What kind of sicko does that!?! This Spring Break my in-laws bought a puzzle. It was a Star Wars puzzle and Max began putting it together with his cousin. I got sucked into working on it. Then, as time went on, my type-A personality became unhinged and I became absorbed in it. It wound up being time well spent. Brain turned off and family members coming and going to help out from time to time. It was honestly an unusual feeling and one I rarely enjoy. I didn’t finish the puzzle, however…
At some ungodly hour in the middle of the night on Thursday morning Emily received a call. This was the type of call that no one wants to receive. The call put the puzzle, and everything else in our life, on hold. The call also reminded me AGAIN how precious our time is.
Molly was at her boyfriend’s house with all their friends. A man walked in from the street and held them up at gunpoint to steal their phones. Somehow in the process, her boyfriend, Holman, was shot and killed.
That is a devastating few sentences to have to write about any family member or close friend. I have never had something like this hit so close to home. This was someone who could potentially become a significant part of my daughter’s life. I’ve heard devastating news like this, of course. We all have. Most of the time (if I haven’t become too numb from how common it has become) it will provoke thought. As we travel home to be with Molly this provokes plenty of thought. A few words keep rolling around in my mind but ‘senseless’ is the one that pops up most often. Emotions teeter from sadness to outright anger.
Getting past those initial thoughts and on to how this impacts one’s life going forward I’m reminded yet again of how time is our most precious asset. Every single one of us will cease to exist on earth at some point. Some people’s time will be cut short like Holman’s time was. Holman’s life is a lot like that unfinished puzzle I left behind on my in-law’s dining room table on Spring Break. Cut short and will never be able to finish. It would have been a beautiful picture if it had been able to be finished. Instead, it is a partially told story with glimpses of what was to come and many pieces left to be solved.
Puzzles, like life, present us with those tricky ‘problem pieces’. Those pieces that you pick up 20 times and can’t find its home and then a day or two later it just snaps into place with no problem. This can mirror life. Problems present themselves and you bang your head against them time and time again. Finally, sometimes they wind up working out. I’m sure Molly (and Holman’s family) will feel this frustration as time rolls by and I hope it eventually is solved for her. I hope all the tricky pieces in the coming days, weeks, months and years find their spot.
If you happen to persevere and get to the end of a puzzle, or life, you can gaze upon it and ponder all that it took to get you there. Some people are fortunate enough to make it to the end and turn every problem into a solution. Others never get to finish their puzzle for whatever reason. An unfinished puzzle, or life, can still be looked upon with a sense of accomplishment, however. Getting to the end is the goal but sadly will not always happen. A puzzle is a reminder that half the fun is the journey even if unfinished. I hope Molly will remember this as unexpected things arise in our lives (as they always do).
So, I didn’t finish the puzzle. But I don’t regret starting the puzzle. Holman is no longer with us but I bet those that know him do not regret knowing him. They will remember their journey with him. They will remember their time with him for years to come. They will remember the good he brought into their life. They will wonder what might have been, for sure. But none of us are guaranteed anything so we must take what we have and be thankful for what we get. We all are not guaranteed a shot at finishing our puzzle. In the end, no matter when it is our time to end our journey this is all we (and those we leave behind) are left with. We might be sad we didn’t get to finish the puzzle. We might have desperately tried and couldn’t wait to see it all finished. But that isn’t how it works sometimes…hell…probably most of the time. Regardless, be happy the puzzle was started and be thankful for the time you had working it.
I’m not sure a puzzle is the best metaphor for any of this but it was the last thing I was doing before that unexpected call. Regardless, I write this to remind myself that the journey IS the best part and that we must not take that for granted. We all have limited time to make our journey worthwhile and to create something worth remembering when we are done. If our puzzle is totally done or only partially complete it will still represent what we put into it. Holman’s death is an unfortunate and much too close to home reminder of this. Whenever you hear of a life like Holman’s that was senselessly cut short let it renew your sense of urgency to spend the time you are granted wisely! I write this so that those who didn’t know Holman will not let the news story go whirling by numb to it (like maybe so many others). I hope you may find some inspiration in the life he lived and didn’t get to live. I hope it will push you to live urgently in your own life.
RIP Holman. You will be missed by those who loved you! There is hardly a greater testament to the time you spent than that! A journey and time well spent!