Families are so fragile. They are like jigsaw puzzles. They need to be handled with care, or they fall apart. The members of a family are like the pieces of a puzzle, and if the puzzle is shifted too radically, too quickly, pieces (members) drop out and possibly get lost. They may be lost forever, or they may be found and fit back into the picture.  When a long-lost piece to a puzzle is found, it is fit back in with gladness and there is a sense of completeness. Families are like this. But so often, a family puzzle has many missing pieces and the whole becomes shaky and unstable.

Sometimes there is a piece that stands out because it has been mistreated and has faded, or may be missing some of its color. But as long as it fits into the space, it is put back. Just like a member of a family. Someone may be jaded or hurting, but they are welcomed and loved anyway.

Like pieces of a puzzle, members of a family who go away cannot be replaced. The empty space they leave is surrounded with hope and longing, but remains empty until they return. In a family, when someone we love disappears, we may try to patch things up and continue on, but nothing is the same. That gaping hole is always there and the family is never the same.

……I sip my wine and nibble my chocolate and realize my family is like this….

Five years ago our family’s puzzle was swept off the table, onto the floor. Each one of us broke into pieces. Each piece has been carefully looked for and put back in place. It required a tremendous effort, a lot of heartache and a lot of soul searching. But one piece had been drastically changed. At first, we thought we’d never find it again. Then bit by bit we realized it was right there all the time, but had changed so much we didn’t recognize it. As we dreamed of it and whispered lovingly to it, it grew greater and we recognized our beloved  Benjie.

He has changed so much. He has grown into more than we could ever imagine. He has become our inspiration. He has replaced our fear with faith. He is our very own beacon of light and it is amazing how he enters our thoughts and dreams and we are stronger as a result.

…..My wine glass is empty and the sun has set…..