Scrapbooking life's inevitable difficulties is a topic that has come up several times in my travels through the online scrapbooking community. As we all know from experience, life can be hard. Sometimes even kick-you-in-the-ass, drag-you-through-the-mud, hurricane-in-your-back-yard, hard. People we love get sick, we get sick. We have arguments with others. Relationships fail, fall apart. We get fired, hurt, betrayed. People die.
And because scrapbookers are storytellers, sometimes we want to document those difficult, heart-rending stories, too, for a number of reasons. To work through the feelings, to tell how we survived, to present a real picture of our lives, to chart our own growth, or for reasons we can't necessarily put into words.
We just need to tell those hard stories sometimes.
For me, the year 2013 was defined by my nephew's leukemia diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Talk about hurricane in the back yard! The impact of the reality my husband and I faced as we absorbed the shock of his illness and his long journey toward recovery was definitely hurricane force. When the worst was over (or we thought it was), I came face-to-face with a decision: did I want to include the hardest times of that year in my scrapbooks? And if the answer was yes, the next question was, how? I went back and forth before finally deciding that because the entire year was shaped by my nephew's health crisis and my role as his caregiver, to exclude it would leave a gigantic gap in my scrapbook pages.
I gave the question of how a lot of thought, too, and decided on simplicity of design and mostly soft blue tones, using elements that I felt reflected my own feelings about what happened. Thankfully, I journaled profusely during my countless hours in hospital waiting rooms, so I had many of the details of the stories I wanted to tell already recorded.
That record served my scrapbooking well.
Today, I'm sharing four pages I created about this difficult time in my life. The first serves as an introduction and doesn't contain a photo.
I printed the title in a large font to be a focal point of this page, as well as a statement of impact. I also printed a definition of the word, as a point of reference and a design element. The typed portion is excerpted from my journal, and the handwriting was my current perspective when the page was created.
3 Days In
I took a photo from my nephew's hospital room and used it on this layout about how things were going three days into his treatment. Again, the journaling is from my typed journal. I used four bits of the same patterned paper and three arrow embellishments on the light blue background, adding a little interest to another text-heavy page.
For this page, I used a brochure we were given as a focal point, including both typed journaling from the record I kept during the experience, as well as handwritten journaling that provided the more current perspective.
For this more recently created page, I kept to my muted color scheme of mostly blues, with just a little pop of light yellow to coordinate with the mask I included as a focal point element. I used the Tough stamp set by Ali Edwards and embellished with butterflies, which mean transition and hope to me.
The telling of this story is far from complete. I have several pages planned to document the rest of 2013, and I have more to tell about leukemia coming back, my nephew's second bone marrow transplant, and his continuing recovery.
When I look at these pages, as well as the others I've done, and the photos that haven't made it onto scrapbook pages yet, I sometimes get emotional. I re-live those memories, those moments, and all the accompanying feelings, and I remember how hard it was and how my strength and stamina were tested, forged into steel through those difficult days.
I also feel a whole lot of gratitude that my nephew survived, against all odds, and he's creating a life for himself, hopefully never to deal with this terrifying disease again.
Documenting the bad times creates a whole narrative for my life, helps me see a bigger picture of how I've lived, who I am, what matters, and how unimaginably lucky I am every day.