I’m at that point in my life where most spring and fall weekends seem to be occupied by weddings.
I had the opportunity to be in the wedding party recently at the marriage of two long-time friends.
The event brought people together from across the country and made for three days of reunions, hugs, tears, drinking all-too-much and laughter.
Exhausted and riding back from the wedding Sunday, my mind wandered, and I started seeing the whole experience as a sort of jigsaw puzzle.
Sometimes two pieces come together to make a sum greater than the parts.
Those occurrences—a birth, a job, a wedding, an anniversary—we celebrate.
I’d seen a lot of pieces come together at the wedding. Few of them I had expected to be in my puzzle.
Luke, the groom, I’d labeled as a cocky know-it-all when I first helped him move into his dorm.
Nine years later, he’s still cocky and he does know it all, as he will soon be a doctor and is one of my favorite people in the world.
The bride, I’d simply put in my phone as “Hailey, Luke” a year later. At that point, her distinguishing factor was she dated Luke, and with his track record, learning her last name probably wouldn’t be necessary.
The next eight years proved me so very wrong as she became a rock in our friend group.
I didn’t expect the person on my left in the wedding party to be one of my best friends. I didn’t expect the ceremony’s officiant, a painfully awkward self conscious 17-year-old Western Kansas kid, to grow up into one of the most self confident, balanced people I have in my life.
At the moment of the wedding, I looked at the whole puzzle and all of us who’d changed and grown and struggled over the years. I looked at the woman smiling at me from across the crowd, someone I’ve shared much of my life with.
It was a great picture. And my heart was full. And someday all of this will change.
Finding pieces isn’t the hard part.
People find love. People find happiness. People find joy and people find laughter.
The part that takes the effort is keeping the pieces together when the puzzle rearranges.
This weekend, the bride and the groom looked the picture of youth and beauty.
Their puzzle will grow. And one day, hopefully not for a long time, their puzzle will shrink. One will be left to mourn the missing piece they built their world around. That is loss, the memory of the missing piece and what it meant to the picture of your life.
So many pieces I’d expected to build my puzzle around are gone. So many different pieces had filled those places.
I talked to old friends this weekend that I hadn’t seen in ages. And on the surface, everyone’s life looks perfect. But underneath we’re all constantly searching.
Nearing home, I thought of the pieces of my puzzle that I was happy with, those people at the wedding, my job, my girlfriend, my family. I thought about what I wanted to build my puzzle around. I thought of the pieces I needed. I thought of the gaps that would remain.
In the end I don’t think any of us are meant to finish our puzzles. There will always be holes and the puzzles will always be changing.
Understanding this makes the brief moments when the pieces come together all the more beautiful.