I always tell the scrapbookers I'm teaching that there are NO RULES in scrapbooking! I encourage them that as long as the pages are beautiful and meaningful to them, no one else's opinion matters. Once in while, the difficult question of whether or not to scrapbook the sad times and tragic things that happen in our lives comes up. My answer is that it really IS OKAY to scrapbook the sad things IF you want to! I know not everyone will even want to know some of the details I've captured on my pages below, and not everyone feels comfortable or ready to scrapbook/share/re-live these kinds of things, and that's completely okay too!
I've been holding on to most of the following photos for a few years now, not quite sure exactly "how" to scrapbook them all and do them justice, because they are so very special to my family. Then, Close to my Heart recently came out with an elegant new paper collection and scrapbooking workshop kit (Hello Lovely G1119) that coordinates with these special photos so perfectly!!
WARNING! If you are very sensitive and easily emotionally triggered, you may not want to look at the following images. They include photos of a two-year-old baby in a casket, and we all know that is not an easy thing to see. I realize that these pages may not be for everyone, and I certainly don't want to offend anyone, so please protect your heart and don't look at them if you know you can't handle it (or at least don't look too close).
I'd also like to further explain my WHY for sharing them
and WHY even sad memories can be so emotionally beneficial for us to preserve...
My nephew, Bradley, was born with a rare and not fully understood genetic syndrome. As a newborn, he started very small and failed to thrive. The doctors were uncertain how long he might live. This beautiful child was only here on earth for two short years, and YET his great life made such a vital impact on our family! I watched in awe as my sister and her husband and their children cared for this special needs child with SO MUCH LOVE! They endured many scary medical emergencies and painful situations with grace. They fought to keep him alive with every medical treatment and intervention possible, only to realize that his health continued to deteriorate and that he would eventually need hospice care. His parents and siblings held him, held his hands, kissed him, and surrounded him on the bed, as he took some of his last and final breaths.
While preparing for the inevitable, my sister, who loves creativity and celebrations as much as I do, realized that she would never have the opportunity to throw Bradley another birthday party, or a graduation party, or even a wedding reception. She began taking more pictures, getting them in order and framing the best photos, making silk flower arrangements and table decorations, and organizing in her mind exactly what she wanted to do to make his funeral service as lovely and memorable as possible.
As the funeral approached, and I saw how much work she was putting into this celebration of his life, I offered to take photos of this day, not quite realizing the difficult task that I had gotten myself into. I snapped photos at every moment I felt I could that seemed appropriate. At times, I felt awkward asking guests to "smile!" and "say cheese" as they looked up at me with tear-stained cheeks. In my mind, I imagined them thinking, "this crazy lady really wants me to smile at a funeral?" as they grinned at me half-heartedly. I wondered if some guests thought I was nuts for taking so many photos of a dead child, but I tried not to think on that too much, as I only wanted my sister to always have one last look at him through photographs, resting in peace, and just as beautiful in death as he was in life. It was uncomfortable at times, but none the less, I feel I was able to capture on camera somewhat, the beauty of that day and all of the love expressed and felt, in spite of the obvious sadness that was very present there also.
My sister has given me permission to share these pages and photos with you, because like me, she understands a few things... 1). that Bradley is such an important part of our family and we never want to forget him! 2). that we want our children and grandchildren to know how special he is to us and how much he continues to be loved and remembered, 3). that scrapbooking and SHARING such hard things can be very therapeutic and healing even, as it allows us to connect with others who have felt similar grief and pains like our own, and 4). it allows our lost loved ones to live on more permanently in our hearts!
This last page (above and below) is one I made with a different paper collection (the retired "Zoe" papers) a few years ago, when I spoke about and presented it on stage during the annual Close to my Heart Convention for consultants (2015). Part of my message to them that day was how important it is to write down whatever stories and memories we can alongside our photos! We won't always be around to tell the full story, and without these details, all you see here is just the release of a bunch of pretty orange balloons. When you "tell the story" permanently in your own written words like I have done, your photos become even more meaningful, and their significance becomes clear...that these balloons represent the great LOVE our family will always share for our sweet little
Bradley Herrick Brinkerhoff.