It Takes Time to put Together a Jagged Jigsaw Puzzle


How many of you have ever been given the best-intentioned gift – the 1500 – 2000 piece puzzle of an amazing National Geographic type scene? Not being an expert at matching these intricate jagged like bits of cardboard that almost always looked the same color, it would take me months to complete the picture – and only then when I was making myself practice perseverance because it was a trait I knew I would need to have somewhere in my adulthood. I just had never in my right and left-brain mind dreamed the course of perseverance God had placed on my plate in 1983-84.

I have provided the basic over view of the event that changed my life forever in two pearls: God granted me a Second Chance and The State of being unconsciousness doesn’t mean one lost their hearing! Now, I will close the gaps and complete the story.

Once I regained consciousness and the physical therapists did their job expertly at encouraging my beaten up body to learn to walk again – making screaming muscles work and while the scars healed, stitches were removed from here and there, I still had not discerned what the state of my mind was. I had only sketchy recollections as to what supposedly happened. It was like in preserving my life God had given me a 100,000 piece puzzle and expected me to put it all together again – only instead of this puzzle being cardboard, if felt like jagged shards of glass.

Within a few months I was walking and talking and ‘appearing’ as normal as I thought my family and friends needed in order not to see worry furrow their brows. (Almost like a Chatty Cathy Doll!) I don’t like people to worry. Even today, I am in that “I’ll Do It Myself” mode. What remained hidden was my total confusion about what had occurred and my newer discovery that I wasn’t what I once was and probably could never be again. The accident serve the same purpose as my divorce did. It lopped off the fowl friends and left in its’ place the true-blue loyal friends who would love me no matter how my frustrations would finally seethe in anger and finally boil over into an uncontrollable tantrum of ugly words and self-imposed isolation. I really wasn’t mad at any of them. I was angry at myself because I couldn’t figure out the differences that occurred in how my brain now functioned and I couldn’t find the person I had fashioned myself to create that public persona that garnered the praise of the broadcasting community. I just couldn’t find it in myself to be that super social shallow dilettante who flitted from one group to the next, one event to the next, from one project to the next – never lighting long enough in case I like the moth could be further seared by the pain of failure in life – that feeling of being unconditionally loved and cherished as a human being.

I, like Dorothy in the middle of the Emerald City, never realized I had it all along! It was within the sphere of my own backyard – but it took being totally, emotionally, laid low enough to the ground to see it as not being the crab grass of my life!

Isn’t that the trick of life? We have to know what is low in order to aspire to heights. We have to know what is right in order to know what is wrong! We have to be on this catastrophic roller coaster of high and low blood pressure. Personally I like it medium – 120 over 80! I have written about my best friend, Madeliene. For all she had to do in her own life, she held that hand up to me through out all of these travails. And finally, I had the good sense to grasp it and make the few steps back into humanity with her holding that emotional walker I would need for awhile until I really could “Do It Myself!”

That was why God knew – doesn’t he always! - I could put together that 100,000-piece puzzle called My Life. Through the emotional healing, the concrete recognition of what abilities I would no longer be able to claim along with the commitment to make lemonade out of lemons, I have become who I am today. I learned how to rethink and focus my mind to accomplishing smaller mental tasks; practicing until I felt confident I could perform them by rote. That’s how I finally learned how to factor an equation! I made myself learn things I previously had on my hate list according to old journals. I placed my students in alphabetical order for the entire term so I could learn their names with no obvious embarrassment to me or to the student. I re-took college classes to hone my academic knowledge and I really read the books this time around! I concentrated on life more and focused on an imagined future with the alacrity that instead of it being a dream it could be real. I organized; I cleaned out drawers and straightened closets– not because I was told to – but because I had a deep-rooted need to know where everything was in case I wanted it in a snap! Not only was this clean out and reorganization done physically; it had to be done mentally so I could discern what I knew and what I didn’t and what I had to relearn. And most importantly - what no longer mattered in my new life!

I went through journals, photo albums, trunks, old birthday and greeting cards trying to place a face, an experience, a memory of some kind to the thought or the item to understand why I had kept it in the first place. If some gut instinct did not prevent me, I tossed the physical item into the fireplace and crossed off the mental quest from my list because than it was one less thing to querry.

I read old high school English papers to try to capture the teen I had been. I developed a different perspective about that girl. All these years I had thought of her as the stupid girl the guidance counselor told my parents not to waste money on for college. Instead, the words that she wrote swirled off the pages filled with creativity and ingenuity! She was “okay!” And, that guidance counselor was wrong! Good thing my parents ignored him and pushed me into four more years of a liberal arts education and time to grow up! They had more faith in me than I! That was something also unrecognized. And in this process of what I termed ‘reality’ therapy, I recognized a self I could grow into that would be more rewarding and comfortable than anything I would have become if God had saved me from a drunk driver. I focused on observing and listening to the needs of humanity around me. I looked into the eyes of my students and cared what became of them. They were not a number but a name I would try hard to remember. I counted my ‘jeweled’ friends who were there to catch me before I fell too harshly. I also established the practice of talking with God instead of jabbering to myself! And most of all, I focused on listening. I like the quiet times when I feel the inner speaking of my soul in discourse with a higher being who will guide me! Now, I admit I am this poor mortal, sinful human…. Not some kind of super social shallow dilettante Most importantly, I forgave others and I did something I had never done before – I forgave myself.

God’s purpose really wasn’t to ‘seriously’ harm me. After all He had given me all the breaks I have mentioned; rather, I tend to see the experience today as a major course correction in my fulfilling His purpose for me in life! I shall continue working at putting that 100,000- piece puzzle together. I want to see the finished picture.

Claudia Kerens mina1986@midwest.net

About Me:

General Bio - 51 year old educator who has worn several hats in the broadcasting, office and restaurant worlds. Turning 50 is a freeing experience thus most of my writing revolves around lessons learned and wisdom to pass on so that others don't hit the same brick walls I did. The sooner folks love themselves, they can give love to others. And that, is the greatest gift of all.

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