Friday, October 6, 2017

Make Lemonade ~ Cope with good memories ~ Part 1

Feelings cannot be always in the state we intend even though we think, believe, or even want them to be. They are parts of us, but it is sometimes the most difficult to control.

Grieving a loss of loved ones is never easy to deal with. Everybody takes it differently and handles in their own ways. One thing for sure to anybody is that denying or avoiding grieving wouldn't help you. We accept our feelings, process them, then we see where we could go from there. It is a sort of journey. When you start grieving, your healing begins at the same time. Nobody knows how long it takes, but it is sure you are one step close to the end of your journey.

Here is my journey. Good memories with Marilyn have been guiding me my journey. During the grieving, thinking back the time with her made me feel how lucky I was to have her in my life. So, I decided to do something with all good memories with her — my way of honoring her... and processing my feelings.

It helped me to cope. After all, sweet memories are great remedy for broken hearts. The toughest part is you need to reach your sweet memories in your torment. If you are having the great pain in darkness, I hope you'll find a tiny light of your sweet memories, then reach it out. The next couple of posts are about what I did. I also hope they would give some ideas to somebody who are wondering what they could create with their loved ones' memories.


Since Marilyn was gone, I had thought I was ok. I enjoyed posts about their dogs in the doggie groups on Facebook. They made me smile. I thought I was moving on. Some kind people often PM'ed me to check how I was doing. Their messages started with "How are you?" I didn't know how to respond to it. I found myself I couldn't say "I'm fine", then noticed I was not ok. I realized I didn't even know what to do with my sadness and emptiness. I was just trying to make sense of whatever it was that I couldn't quite accept.

I thought I had to do something to find my closure or some sort of answer to myself. As a start, I decided to go through Marilyn's drawer, where I had kept all her paperwork. It's not a big drawer, but my dining table was quickly covered by piles of receipts from the vet, the dog licenses from the towns, her adoption record, the references I had collected about her health issues over the years, the recipes of dog treats, some random pictures of her, the dog tags, etc., etc....

I knew one thing... I wouldn't be able to throw them away. They are not trash to me. I didn't want to let those pieces of her go. I was not ready for that. Every piece brought me tears. They were sorted in two categories, something for our future dog(s) and things for Marilyn. The first one went back to the drawer. The table was still covered with her stuff. Then, I headed to a craft store.

It Is Meant to Be

I didn't know what I was looking for at the store. So, I just wondering around. Then, I found two of this black frame. The dog in the frame was not the reason I picked this... ok, maybe a little bit.

This has some depth, not like a usual picture frame. It can be used as a shadow box. It's perfect to display keepsakes.

It's a sort of rustic, but not too much. I guess it was intended to be industrial, but to me this is more rustic vintage nautical inspired design. I like the brass accents a lot. It's casual, but has enough class, too. The design is simple. I don't need to worry about the frame takes away objects in it.

At this point, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them. It is always exciting to find a perfect match.

See? It is meant to be!

The top green one is what Marilyn was wearing when we met for the first time. It has the rescue's name and their phone number. I kept it thinking it would tell her where she came from and remember to thank them rescuing her.

The middle red one is what I got her when I submitted her adoption application. It has the matched leash we went for walks with. She never pulled, and walked right beside me. I set the leash the shortest, but still I had to wrap it around my hand not to drag it on the ground. The red looked great on her black coat. It was her color.

Chad got the bottom one for her. It had been washed so many times. Its green and blue are torn.

I liked the mat came with the frame though it wouldn't serve the purpose in this case. I grabbed the mat and went to Jo-Ann Fabric. It was Sunday evening, close to their closing time. I thought it would be easy to find similar fabric since it is pretty generic ivory color with some specs on. I couldn't find a right shade. Some were too orange, too yellow, too bright... I couldn't pick one, so picked two closest I found and went to the counter.

I placed my mat on the top of two fabric I picked, and asked the store person which one was closer to the mat. She looked at them five seconds, then said "Hold on." She stepped out from the counter and disappeared behind the bolts of the fabric. She came back with one bolt in her hand. "I think this is better."

She made my day. I thanked her, but I don't think she was aware how much her act meant to me. She helped me to keep my baby's memory perfect.

Everything was sewn down on the backing, which is an acid free foamcore. The fabric is pinned along the edges of the backing. No glue. This way, I don't need to worry about the fabric gets stained over the years. I could change the frame and backing in the future if I wish without damaging the objects.


They are on the hallway wall we walk by every day. The side of the camera located is the stairs. Whenever we use the stairs, we see them. They got the perfect spot for themselves.

The tags look so worn out just because she wore them all the time. There were at least 3 tags on her collar all the time. It was fun to find out what shape of tag was picked for a dog license when it came in mail every year.

Those tags hit each other and always made a very distinctive ting-ring sound. They never led her sneak up to anybody. We knew where she was without looking around.

Looking at these tags, I can hear the ting-ring sound far away in the back of my head. It's bitter sweet.


This is a simple project which doesn't require special tools or material. It's just a matter of finding a right frame. By putting it in a frame, your keepsake can be protected from possible damage while you can look at them all the time.

Continue to Part 2.

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