Without words the pictures will be meaningless.


For several years, I was a scrapbooker. I started to say that I was an avid scrapbooker, but I am not sure that’s true. I think avid scrapbookers are the people who buy all the little trinkety things that go on their pages. And that is not me. For me, scrapbooking was always about putting down the story, about making sure the memories were recorded. There are words that go along with the pictures, and it was my job to get them on the page. If it was just going to be about the pictures, a regular photo album would have been enough. (I am also prejudiced against books with more pictures than words. I need more than pictures to tell a story. And while we’re talking about this, I do not actually believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. And even if it was, I would rather have the words. Thousands of them. Especially if they are written by someone who knows how to put them together in just the right way.)

My scrapbooking ceased when my dad got sick. As the spring stretched into summer, I could not face writing about what I knew would be our last Christmas together. I could not face how different things were just a few months previous. And so our scrapbook has sat, unfinished, those last Christmas pictures waiting to find a home. The giant bag of scrapbook materials was moved from one house to another, but the neglect has continued. From time to time I would look at it. And feel guilty. And leave the room. (Now at least we have all this fancy closet space in which to put it. Makes it easier to ignore.) And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that digital photography has basically killed scrapbooking. (In my opinion.) Mike has encouraged (but not pushed) me to take it back up, to keep writing our stories. But there is loss and pain there that I couldn’t begin to describe in a post on the internet. It is hard to look at those pages and think about how much has changed. I promised myself I would work on it over the summer, but it was a hard summer, and I did not do it.

With all the free time the snow days have afforded us, I did finally go through our pictures and ordered some at Costco. That was a big step, and it took a lot of time, but it felt really good. All the cleaning and organizing we have been doing lately has felt like I was dusting the cobwebs out of my head, too. The house doesn’t seem so closed in around me. My stuff doesn’t seem so closed in around me. It gives me more space to think and feel and breathe.

On Tuesday afternoon, I got the giant scrapbook bag out to look for something I need for this weekend. I started going through my stuff, and I felt the spark inside, what it means to write our story. I have let the loss and change keep me from it, but now I can see that I have been about it all wrong. It felt like everything changed when dad died, but our lives have continued. We have forged new memories and new traditions. We are going on, just as he would want us to. And those things are worth writing down.

It is easy for me to find reasons not to do things. Being busy, being hurt, being lonely. It is better and harder to choose a life that is about telling a story.

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