Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scrapping as therapy

Warning: Downer post ahead ;-) So, an old friend of mine committed suicide back in February. Although I hadn't seen him in about 7 years, this hit me hard for many reasons. First of all, although we had lost touch, he was a big part of my life for a long time - all through high school and college. The last time I saw him was when I was living in Tucson in grad school and he flew out to stay with me for a weekend. Secondly, even being in the field of psychology, I don't understand suicide. I just can't fathom life ever being so bad that there is no hope left. Thirdly, the Ben that I knew was such a positive, happy, lovable person. He was the last person that I would have ever thought would end up like this. And I didn't know him in the last few years, so I never saw his descent into darkness. It was so hard for me to grasp that this person I knew as so happy ended up struggling so much. Anyway, a few weeks after attending his funeral, I wrote the journaling for this layout. I wasn't able to bring myself to actually create the layout until last night - it's called "You died too young":
Journaling is the main element of this layout and very long, so I don't blame you if you want to skip it, lol. But in case you're interested, here it is:

February 2008

Dear Ben,

Every time I’ve thought of you over the last month, my heart has been heavy and filled with sadness. I’m filled with confusion and questions that I know will never be answered. I can’t stop wondering what went wrong. At what point did life let you down so much that you felt forced to make the decision you did? How did my happy-go-lucky, laid-back, jovial friend turn into a person who had to face life’s hardest battle, fighting and struggling to stay alive. I feel anger and frustration amongst my sadness and a strong sense of injustice and disbelief over why life has to be so difficult for some people. These feelings spin throughout my heart, and then I remember. I remember the person you were. Your friends did an amazing job of describing you at your funeral. Elon talked about how you could talk medicine with the doctors, law with the lawyers, yet also break into a rap song on the street with a homeless person. Your heart held no boundaries – you judged no one and gave everyone a chance. I also remember your laughter. I remember your charm (oh my, were you ever charming!). I remember your gentle soul. I remember the way you’d call me “Stacers” in that relaxed, deep voice of yours. And I remember how incredibly genuine you were. And then, amongst all the heartache, I smile.

I smile at memories of high school times. Endless nights hanging out at people’s houses, parties, going to prom (both yours and mine) in the same group, you driving up to my parent’s house in some random car you were playing with at the time, beach week. And I smile at memories of college times. You visiting me in the dorms, me visiting you at your frat house, college parties, road trips, and more good times. And then I smile at my memory of the last time I saw you. Tony and I were living in Tucson and, true to typical Ben nature, you called me up out of the blue and asked if you could come visit in two days time. And you did. Your first day there was a typical hot Arizona summer day, and you wanted to go hiking, despite the fact that the temperature was well over 100 degrees. So we did. I panted up the mountain and you practically ran to the top. And what did you do when we got to the top? You took your shirt off and dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups. And, of course, you then had to top off all of your exercise with a cigarette. That memory brings a smile to my face every single time because that is who you were. Spontaneous, full of life, charismatic, and fun. I’m sorry that I hadn’t seen you in so long, Ben. I’m sorry that we lost touch. I’m sorry, Ben, that I didn’t realize until you were gone, just much I appreciated the times when we were friends. How much you, and the person you were, taught me. I’m so sorry that life turned on you and became so unbelievably hard. And, most of all, I’m sorry that you’re no longer here. You will forever hold a place in my heart. Rest in peace, Ben, rest in peace.

I've only done one other layout in my life that was so difficult, and that was when I scrapped about my grandfather's death on 9/11/01. Both times, however, creating these layouts was so cathartic and therapeutic. It truly reminds me (like I could ever forget, lol!) why I scrapbook. This is what it's all about.

23 comments:

Norma Kennedy said...

Ohhh Staci, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. What tender sweet journaling that brought me to tears as you thought back to your special relationship that you had with each other. Im so glad that scrapping it was theraputic for you. Yes this is what scrapping is all about. Lotsa (((hugs))) for you, Norma

Stacey Michaud said...

I too am sorry for your loss! I think it is wonderful that you expressed how you feel about him through a layout that you will treasure forever!

Anabelle said...

What an amazing layout. I'm so sorry about your friend. I'm glad you were able to create such a therapeutic page.

Joke said...

You did a great job. Touching journaling.

Pearl said...

O Staci , I'm so sorry for your loss!!!! So glad this is therapeutic for you too !

Mariangeles M said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Life can't get so hard sometimes but I'll never understand suicide neither.

Beautiful LO.

God bless your friend.

Take care :-)

Debbi T said...

Oh, Staci, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart is aching after reading your beautiful journaling.

dannisdoodles said...

Amazing layout.
Amazing testament.
Amazing friendship.
May his soul finally be at rest.
May this be healing for you my dear friend.
hugs & love!
danni

Christine said...

This is so incredibly touching, Staci! What a wonderful way to remember your dear friend! I am so sorry for your loss, and hope that you will move towards having more peace about him being gone. May he finally have peace as well.

You are so right about scrapbooking...it's about capturing everything in life - the joys as well as the sadness, and you've done it beautifully in this tribute to your friend!

Danielle said...

How touching and beautiful, Staci! So sorry that you had to experience this. Your relationship reminded me of some of my relationships and how I should cherish them now. Thank you for the reminder!
Hugs,
Dani

Diana said...

As difficult as this was for you to write, it was as difficult for me to read. However, with that being said, you could not have paid a more touching, true and emotional tribute to Ben, who I do remember so well. I truly do believe he is at peace now and is smiling down at his "dear friend" for remembering him in such a profound and endearing way.

Love,
Mom

Meg Giroux said...

Staci, this is such a beautiful layout in memory of your friend. I am so sorry to hear of your loss of both Ben and your grandpa. You brought tears to my eyes with your journaling about him. I lost a childhood friend when we were 18 and it still is hard to this day when I think about him. Hugs

Lauren said...

Staci that was so touching! what a tribute! I'm glad you found strength to complete it! it truly is beautiful.

Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TatumW said...

WOW Staci...that is powerful. huge hugs. xx

Kristen said...

What wonderful journaling. That is good therapy for you to help with the loss of a dear friend. Thank goodness scrapbooking can be so many things for people. Wonderful page!!!

Jen said...

Staci, my heart goes out to you right now. I haved shared in the pain and grief that you experience. (((hugs)))

Danielle said...

what a beautiful layout Staci. you have inspired me to do a layout that I have been putting off. Thanks.

~Amie~ said...

HUGE HUGS! The layout and the journaling are fabulous, very touching

Sherry said...

What a beautiful layout and such wonderful, heartfelt journaling. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope making this layout was theraputic for you. I know how hard it must have been to write the journaling, and I'm so proud of you for being strong enough to do it. Thanks for sharing it with us. My heart goes out to you and to his family and friends.

Allie said...

Thank you for sharing Staci - what a truly beautiful tribute.

iris said...

I am sorry for your loss. You made a wonderful page and I think it will help you cope with the pain. ((Hugs))

Charlotte Cramer said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Staci! What beautiful journaling!!! Big Hug!!!