But losing a loved one can give you a completely new perspective about memory keeping, even if the loved one in question happens to have four legs and a tail.
A couple of days after our incredible dog Ruby passed away from cancer (just last week), my husband instant messaged me in the middle of the day to tell me how grateful he is for all the pictures, all the scrapbook pages, and all the keepsakes.
Our hobby may seem quirky at times, and to some people it seems strange and obsessive, but you know what? It matters. And you don’t realize just how much it matters until those pages in that 3-ring binder are all you have to remember someone by.
Here are a
few ways scrapbooking has helped us cope.
We Took Pictures
Ruby’s tumor was discovered in early August, so we had some notice that we were going to lose her fairly soon. We’re grateful we were able to treasure that time with her, and make it a point to take picture after picture of her. We made a list of all the photos we wanted to be sure to take (her face pressed against the window, her favorite sleeping spots, her apple-picking habits), and we did our best to get them while we still could. We were people with a mission. The idea of documenting her before she was gone gave us purpose and comfort.
The minute I heard the news that this was terminal, I sat and cried and typed my favorite memories of Ruby, our most memorable and oft-told stories, and lists of her best attributes. Allowing myself to stop everything and just write, write, write was incredibly cathartic for me. As soon as I knew that these things wouldn’t be forgotten, I was able to relax and focus on the present. We created a “Happy Days” plan to carry us thought the next couple of months, and it helped immeasurably.
On the day of Ruby’s death, while we waited for our vet to arrive at the house to release her from her suffering, my stepson Jeremy sat next to her, quietly petting her, and I sat next to them both with the laptop, typing down every memory that came to either of our minds. It was our way of keeping her here, even though she was slipping away. Together, we encapsulated the best things about our best furry friend. A total of 1,721 words poured out of us and onto the page, and we were able to laugh, to bond, and to bask in her memory even before we had to say goodbye.
The layout I created for October’s Write.Click.Scrapbook. gallery has been sitting in a frame in the office ever since I completed it. Seeing it makes me happy, and yes a little bit sad (but I’m sad anyway), and I almost feel like she’s here with me, sitting near my feet in the office, keeping me company while I work. I gathered up a handful of the layouts I’ve created over the years that have starred Ruby, and together they make me realize that—as corny as it sounds—her impact on our lives and the experiences we’ve shared will be with us always. And that’s a huge comfort.
I’m really not trying to start the week off with a “downer” post, but I’ve recently been reminded how valuable this hobby of ours is, and I wanted to share that with you. Even when you’re not cranking out the scrapbook pages, the memories you’re making, the aspects of your life that you’re observing and noticing, the words you’re writing, and the pictures you’re taking are of infinite worth both now and in the future.