A Letter to my Grandma About Puzzles

I’m doing a puzzle and thinking about how we spent the summer after your first chemo sitting next to that ugly, old table mom loved so much; about how we spent those first shitty months summoning all the strength we had to put on a good show for Noah. I was in school and working three jobs, and you were so afraid of falling asleep that you pretended to snore just to keep mom’s sleeping figure at rest.

I remember the table cutting into my stomach, cold on my bare skin; my brain trying to remind my soul to have fun, even around your bald head. I cringed with each breath I’d steal from your lungs; as if the tumors growing inside your body would get smaller if I wished them away. As if doing puzzles in that tiny apartment, with your recently tiny body, didn’t make my heart jump into my feet and my feet sink into a dark, warm pile of Denial.

I’m doing a puzzle and thinking of how we spent the summer after your first chemo working on puzzles
.

Hours upon hours we spent, you and me.

So here I sit.
Doing this fucking puzzle by myself.
Trying so damn hard to put these pieces together.
As if they are the bits of me you broke apart when you left.

And maybe that’s why we spent all that time trying to finish those puzzles, like maybe they were the bits of us this disease broke apart.

And maybe that’s what life is: putting hundreds of thousands of pieces together to form our ultimate masterpiece.

And if that’s the truth, then how do I fill the spaces where you fit?
How do I finish my puzzle without you here to help me put my pieces together?

This poem is about: 
My family

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