A Few Peaceful Memories

This entry was written almost 2 weeks ago as I was getting ready for the scrap booking retreat I went on last weekend.

water lillies
Thinking spring! (Photo by Daniel)

Yes, I admit it. I’m part of the popular cult of mostly women who keep AC Moore and Michaels in business by buying scrap booking supplies. I’m very “old school” in my scrapping techniques, using stamps and ink pads to “make my own” even though it’s A LOT more convenient to buy the same (nicer) item for half a dollar more than the one I’m fumbling to make.

Scrap booking is a love-hate relationship for me. I love the pictures, the supplies, a chance to use my hands and be creative. I love sitting with my high school and church girlfriends each month as we talk, laugh, and sometimes cry while we intermittently manage to adhere pictures on a page over the course of several hours. I love thinking about the memories the pictures stir up, remembering my kids petting the sheep at the fair or eating their first bite of ice cream. I guess I like to live in the past, probably a bit more than I should.

First bite of ice cream
Ian’s first bite of ice cream

However, my “do it yourself” scrap booking puts me far behind where I’d like to be. I like to think if I bought all of the stickers, embellishments, (a Cricut) etc, that I’d be a lot closer to having current scrap books for my kids, instead of being almost 2 years behind. So the “hate” part of scrapping is feeling like I’m never finished, never can say “I don’t have to think about that for another month or two.”

But my love of scrap booking supercedes any dislike, and so I press on while giving myself permission to be eternally behind, as most scrappers are. To try to catch up this winter I used my Christmas/birthday money to buy myself a table (and a room) at a scrap booking retreat. Fifty kid-free, husband-less, chore-less hours dedicated to scrap booking and just enough sleep to keep me awake for the drive home on Sunday.

work room
The Work Room – where it all happens

I was excited at the prospect of all that time to spend scrapping, but possibly more excited to leave my own four walls for two whole days as I have been struggling with a lot of self-induced stress. However, even in the weeks before the retreat, I found it hard to make time to sift through the hundreds of pictures on our computer so that I could order the pictures I needed for the retreat. I even found myself thinking if I didn’t order pictures in time, I could easily spend the time making cards, writing, reading, running,… Oh, and did I mention eating?

Female Superbowl – yeah, we do ok for the weekend.

It was down to the wire—time to order pictures or time to plan alternative ways to spend my weekend. As I pulled out my scrap books to figure out where I left off scrapping, I realized I had barely done any scrapping since January of 2012. Then I remembered the time or two I did scrap this past year I came away feeling overly burdened and uncreative. Instead, I began taking non-scrap booking projects to the monthly get-togethers. I had chalked it up to lack of new ideas, a scrapper’s block.

But as I looked through pictures on the computer, I came across one of my brother-in-law, Alicia’s husband, and I tried to decipher if the picture was taken before or after Alicia’s death. That’s when it clicked. My lack of scrap booking enthusiasm this past year was not about being bored by the same old layouts or supplies. The last scrap booking marathon I had was last January when I spent one day at the scrap booking retreat, scrapping Ian from February 2011 through August 2011—the hardest time of my life between Becky’s diagnosis and Alicia’s death.

Looking back, I distinctly remember the two weeks following the retreat as being one of my lowest times since Alicia’s death, and I wonder if the day at the retreat was partially to blame for this. And so, I had sub-consciously stopped scrapping, way too painful, similar to that time in my life when I no longer wanted to scrap book my wedding— too painful to think of all that day had promised in relation to where my marriage was at that point in time.

Today, however, I took a deep breath and scrolled through picture after picture of my Alice-girl in 2011—her smile, laughter and light-heartedness told the story that we still go on, that in-between our tears our laughter remains and we continue making good memories. So I ordered my pictures in time for them to arrive for the retreat. Whether or not I will spend my weekend working on them remains to be seen, but at least I’ve taken the first step. And maybe just as I now want to scrap book my wedding day because of the healing that has occurred in my marriage, maybe someday I will be able to scrap book Alice’s happenings in 2011-2012.

*  * * Afterthoughts * * *

As you know from two posts ago, the retreat has come and gone. I was able to scrap December of 2010 through January of 2012 for Alice over the weekend. It was harder than I expected it to be. I must admit I was glad my girlfriends had not yet arrived at the retreat as I scrapped the last picture I took of Alicia from Christmas of 2010. I sat “alone” with my thoughts, my anger and my sorrow, and that was just what I needed for the time being.

My friends arrived shortly afterward, and I was glad for the distraction as I continued working through the year—trying not to dwell on the emotions that weren’t pictured, but which permeated every single event. I remembered why we celebrated Easter late that year, why we went to Longwood Gardens in June, and of course Alicia’s face was missing from the vacation pictures as well as Christmas of 2011.

I’ve wondered if this might be the end of my scrap booking for a while again. I’ve struggled with more emotions this week—maybe because of the memories the weekend produced or maybe because it’s the middle of winter, a very hard time for myself (and many people) longing for more sun and warmer weather.

While those hard memories of 2011 into 2012 still linger near the surface of my mind, I am trying to dwell on the happy times too by remembering my Alice-girl, snuggled in her Daddy’s arms and splashing through the fountains…holding on tightly to the few peaceful memories of 2011 in hopes of continuing the healing in 2013.

sitting with Daddy

in motion



my girl

with Ian

Fountain Stroll
Missing you, sweet Alicia


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