Pics of Pain--Toss or Keep?

It was a lovely day. Our daughter looked beautiful in her white dress, made just for her by a childhood friend out of the base of her new mother-in-law’s wedding dress (“something old”). We had a celebration the night before under the stars of a summer night with friends, family and all the hopes in the world. There were toasts, happy pictures and an unforgettable video captured our daughter as she sang a lovely song to her groom. We had reason for optimism that day—we liked this new son-in-law, and they seemed happy in their lives together.

Fast forward three years later and we received the tearful and devastating news from our daughter over the phone—her husband had left her. No debate, no discussion, no warning. The news was a shock and a disappointment from what we thought we knew of him. Of course, we were most concerned about our daughter. Such a heartbreak. I immediately went through FB and deleted every photo. Then I went through the house and pulled the pictures and gathered every photo book. In the grief and anger of the moment I wanted to burn them all. However, it was more than I could bear given my daughter was in all those pictures, so I stored them away instead.

It’s been two years and the wounds are mostly healed, and I’m so very proud of my daughter. She took the lemons of a situation and generated lemonade. She moved on to create a beautiful life and showed resilience in the face of the situation to create her wonderful present. Perhaps, as her mother, I did something right.

Every so often, the box of pictures stored in a closet reminds me of this transition. I’ve decided not to destroy the evidence of the life lesson. After all, it was a lovely happy moment, and she looked beautiful. Perhaps someday as my daughter continues to grow in strength and wisdom, falls in love, and perhaps even has a child, there will be a day we pull the photos out and reflect on the time. We’ll enjoy how lovely she looked and even think wistfully of how things really worked out for the best.

The images will be there. Of course, they will never be on the mantel or on a wall, but they are markers of an event, and more importantly of the events that transpired afterward which were so much happier and more exciting.

How do you deal with your photos that document painful events of your life? Do you store them for later reflection or destroy them to be forgotten along with the memory itself?