Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Life--in Memory of Michele

Greetings Kind Reader,

        It's been a while...I know. is THAT time of year after all.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, or maybe you're of the Jewish faith and celebrate the beautiful festival of lights called Hanukkah.  Or perhaps you're one of folks who observe the fairly new tradition of Kwanzaa.

       Some people wonder why the need for all the variations on a theme?  That theme being 'peace, goodwill, charity, hope, etc.'  But I think there's something about those variations that makes life so intriguing.  I suppose you could say I'm one of those people who thinks it's important to know about the many cultures and peoples here on this big blue marble where we all live because not only does it make us generally more well rounded but it also helps to remind us not so much of the differences between the different groups of people who make up this glorious human race...but it also points out the amazing similarities we share like: honoring one's family and elders, respecting the beauty of nature, remembering days of yore--and not just the good days (though they are so nice to recall) but also the bad (so that we are ever vigilant to keep days like those from ever happening again), and, it gives us a chance to reflect on the people who've been important not just to 'the world' but to us (you, me, the guy down the street and so on). 
        And last but not least, it reminds us that we are each just one little part of a multi-billion piece jigsaw puzzle and when we're all together the image we form is stunning.  And each and every piece is important because the whole point of behind a jigsaw puzzle is how carefully we  must examine each piece to correctly adjoin them to one another so that when it's all done, we see how all the pieces must rely on one another so that the image can be made whole. 

        Is my view of the inter-connectivity of life and how we all 'fit together' I entirely too 'Pollyanna'?  Maybe.  Do I care?  No.  Not one iota.  Nope, I  truly believe that my life impacts on the lives of others.  I'll admit, sometimes I forget that.  But then, something happens and I'm reminded of our uniquely human need to be connected with others. 

        When I first started this blog several years ago, one of my favorite things to write about was 'Six Degrees of (Historically Significant) Separation' wherein I took one day and looked at it through the years.  Imagine looking at today's date--whatever day it is you're reading this--and finding out what happened on this one day 10, 50, 100, 250, and 500 years ago...altogether that's 6 dates...and then I'd look for some sort of connection--granted they were typically goofy but still there was always some sort of connection.

        And then there are the times when I stop to think about those degrees of separation a little closer, and on a more personal level.  When I do that, I cannot help but get a little bit serious (yes, I do have a serious and deeply spiritual side) and I start to see the giant jigsaw puzzle we call 'life' and then I begin to understand how all the pieces connect.  (Okay, so technically jigsaw pieces have 4 oddly shaped sides...not counting the corners and that means there are 5 points touching instead of 6 but that's just getting nit picky!)

        But I digress.  Getting back to how I think of myself as one of those pieces. 

        In my heart, I know...100%, without a doubt, that there are other pieces that must connect to me so my little section of the puzzle can be complete.  And no, I don't necessarily mean 'being connected directly to family' either...yes, we're obviously connected but it goes beyond that sort of connection.  For me I think of people who've greatly impacted my life (beyond just my family). 

        Take for example, one of my very best friends from middle school and high school, Michele Kelemecz.  Oh, the laughs and dreams we shared.  Without her puzzle piece having been connected to mine, I have to wonder 'how less rich would my life be today?'  Because she wasn't just a 'passing pal'...she was one of those friends you can hear laughing in your head when you're reminded of something that happened 20+ some odd years ago.   

        When my father passed away in July of ' was Michele who read the beautiful poem he wrote for Todd and me called 'Who Gives This Woman?' out loud to the people who came to my wedding on October 30, 1993.  Her speaking the words he wrote connected me to my father who'd passed away just a few months before my wedding in a way that I cannot fully explain.  And when I think of what she did for me that day...all I can think is, "How utterly beautiful and kind of her to have done that."

        Sadly, the world lost Michele a few years the midst of childbirth...but out of that tragedy she gave the world a beautiful gift...a daughter she had named Madison long before she was ever born.  Oh, the heartache felt by Michele's family and friends was so deep but the void of sadness was filled by the new life Michele left behind.  (To be honest, it's been well over 5 years since she passed and I am just now able to write of this) 

        Honestly, I can think of no greater sadness a family could possibly endure than to see a blessed little angel take her first as the last breath of her mother flies away. 

        But from this tragedy...hope was born because Madison was adopted by Michele's wonderful sister, Karen and her husband.  And Michele's gift did not stop there...(and it's so very like Michele, too...because of all the people I've known in my life, Michele Kelemecz was the most generous, thoughtful, selfless person I ever knew other than my father...and that's pretty darn important in my eyes)

        Michele's gift continued because when Madison came into the lives of her adoptive parents--the impact of her presence went far beyond helping them realize their dream of starting a family they'd been trying so hard to start...because you see, with Madison's arrival--Michele gave Karen, and thus the world, one extra gift.  I'm sure you are asking, 'What more could she possibly have given?'

        What more indeed!  You see that little angel who came to rest in the home of her aunt and uncle--though to the world they are legally her parents while to Madison they are simply 'Mommy and Daddy'--brought a sense of completion to the family they'd been praying for.  And (now this is purely my opinion) when the stress of that want was lifted from their shoulders...another miracle occurred.

        That's right, lo and behold, Karen and her husband were soon blessed with another child--a sister for Madison.  Madison and Riley...two little peas in a pod...connected forever via the puzzle of life thanks to the jigsaw piece that was and still is my friend Michele who had once touched my own life. 

        Today when I see pictures of little Madison smiling, I truly see my friend Michele smiling straight at me...and it's so reassuring because it reminds me that even when we think one piece of the life puzzle has fallen away...there's always another one ready to fill the void.  And as for me, my heart overflows with such happiness and a sense of peace to see the myriad of photos Karen puts of up her two extraordinary girls because I see the sheer, honest joy of life that sparkles in both of them. 

        Now, will Madison grow up to know 'me' or how that little piece of her has touched me?  Probably not.  Does it bother me?  No...because I know that the piece of her mother that I was lucky enough to have so closely linked to me, lives on through her. 
     And that's all I've got...til next time.

A Ladybug for Michele